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How the Rockets can take Game 3 from the Lakers

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

During Game 2 of the Lakers-Rockets series in the Western Conference Semifinals of the NBA Playoffs, it could be seen that the Rockets' small-ball lineup, which dominated in Game 1, was no match for the rather classic lineup of the Lakers. Some might say that this was meant to happen, and Houston just got lucky in the first game. And this might ring true, as LeBron's athleticism and AD's massive frame is much greater than most of the Rockets lineup. After all, the tallest player on Houston's starting lineup is the 6'7" Robert Covington.

Although there is an obvious size disadvantage, the Rockets can use this to overpower the Lakers. With their switch-heavy defensive strategy, they are the very definition of positionless basketball. From guards to their "big" men, almost any position can be played. And as long as P.J. Tucker can regain his defensive prowess that he held in Game 1, Anthony Davis won't be much of a problem.

But LeBron is still out there, right? As long as Robert Covington and Eric Gordon keep utilizing their presence to pressure LeBron into turnovers and bad shots, The Chosen One will be held at bay. In Year 17, LeBron is still thriving in the tough NBA environment with highlight dunks, assists, and a much higher basketball IQ than before. With all this energy, he can turn the engines on almost instantly and make defenses pay for even the smallest mistakes.

The Lakers' supporting cast, consisting of a veteran Rajon Rondo, 3-and-D guard Danny Green, Alex Caruso "The GOAT", and stretch-fours Markieff Morris and Kyle Kuzma, are all usually showing lots of effort to pick up the pace when the main stars aren't performing. But, the issue that was clear in Game 2 was Davis and LeBron's dominance. Together, they both combined for 62 points, over half of the 117 points scored by the entire team. With scoring contributions from Morris and Kuzma (16 and 13, respectively), the rest of the Lakers did not score much. When you turn to look at the Rockets' scoring breakdown, it is much more balanced as only six players were on the floor and their top two scorers had less than 50% of the points. Russell Westbrook and Robert Covington were both not scoring as much as usual, but Gordon and Harden figured out how to put the pieces together and make a brief comeback in the third quarter.

James Harden (left) and Markeiff Morris (right) fighting for a rebound

It's safe to say, that as long as AD and LeBron don't find a way to the hot hand, the Rockets will have Game 3 in the bag.

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