The Los Angeles Lakers are playing small and outsmarting the Houston Rockets at their own game. Let’s see if they can finish them off.
Catch Game 5 on Sunday, September 13 at 8:00 AM, Manila time.
HOME TEAM: #1 Los Angeles Lakers (3-1)
The Lakers have won three in a row after dropping Game 1, thanks in good part to their temporary shift into a small ball rotation. It’s going so good that big men JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard didn’t even play in Game 4.
Cruising in the second half of the games, the Lake Show are scoring 113.7 points per game in the victories and winning by 12.3 points.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James are continuing to do their thing over the Rockets defense as both are putting up 25-plus per game and shooting above 55% in the series. They’re getting solid help from the supporting cast too. Rajon Rondo, for one, is rising as the third key Laker in the series as he is chipping in 12.5 PPG and 7.5 APG since returning.
ROAD TEAM: #4 Houston Rockets (1-3)
The Rockets have flattened following the dominating series-opener. They scored 112 in Game 1 and have only averaged 103.7 PPG in Games 2, 3, and 4.
Among the many problems is they can’t provide any answer for Anthony Davis, who has lorded over their undersized core. PJ Tucker, the designated “AD stopper,” was non-existent in Game 4, going scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting with four fouls in 32 minutes.
The offense, meanwhile, is getting stagnant by the day as they are going all-in on three-pointers no matter what, so it gets worse when James Harden is having a quiet day. The Beard was just 2-for-11 from the floor in Game 4, and 16 of his 21 points came from the charity stripe. He only has four fourth quarter field goals in his last three games.
Harden (29.2 PPG), Russell Westbrook (22.3 PPG), and Eric Gordon (19 PPG) are posting good numbers in the series, but none of those are proving to be effective right now.
Based on momentum alone, the Lakers should be able to close this one out, 111-106. They simply have to be more careful down the stretch as they have given up big runs multiple times in the fourth. It’s very dangerous against a Houston team that will shoot threes at any given possession.