The Rockets came out aggressive and were able to take Game 1, but since then, it has been the Lakers who have dominated, taking the next two games. LeBron James has led a defensive push that has put Los Angeles in a great spot.
Defense is Key for the Lakers
The Lakers have buckled down on the defensive end, which has played a big part in their wins in this series. The Rockets can put up some points, but that has been difficult to do as of late against this Lakers defense.
“Since training camp, coach (Frank) Vogel and the coaching staff came in and said we want to be one of the best defensive teams if not the best in the league. And that’s where it starts for us,” said James.
James finished Game 3 with 36 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. He dominated on the offensive end in the first half but turned up the defensive effort in the second half. He added four blocks for the game.
After he missed the beginning of the restart, the Lakers have enjoyed the return of Rajon Rondo. His veteran experience at point guard has paid off against the Rockets. He had 21 points in Game 3, adding a team-high nine assists.
Pressure on the Rockets
The last thing the Rockets want to do is get in a 3-1 hole against the top seed in the West. To win Game 4, they have to take care of the ball.
The Lakers have been double-teaming James Harden every chance they get. This has led to some turnovers and easy transition points for Los Angeles.
“Our pace (was poor). We weren’t in attack mode. They did a good job of trapping, and we didn’t make them pay for it,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni.
The play of Russell Westbrook is key for this team. He finally had a good offensive performance in Game 3, but the Rockets were still -14 when he was on the floor.
Houston isn’t very deep, only playing eight guys in Game 3. Jeff Green was the only player to come off the bench and score. The Rockets have to get production outside of Harden and Westbrook to win another game in this series.
The Rockets barely sneaked by the Thunder in the first round, but that won’t happen in this series. They were able to come out and get the Game 1 win, but that will likely be the only one that they get.
James is locked in and has the Lakers playing great defensively to go along with his triple-double numbers. Los Angeles enters the game as five-point favorites, and I like them to cover the spread.
Take the Lakers to win Game 4 on Thursday night to take a 3-1 series lead.