Los Angeles Lakers: Scouting Rockets vs Thunder for Round 2

Los Angeles Lakers(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /
2 of 3
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

How do the Los Angeles Lakers punish Houston inside? It’s not as easy as everyone thinks!

The Houston Rockets famously don’t have a center. The obvious game plan is to punish the Rockets inside via the low post and offensive glass.

But they are NOT small. They are just short. Big difference.

Their “center” PJ Tucker is a fire hydrant in terms of build, as is James Harden, Eric Gordon, and Russell Westbrook. Backing them down in the low post circa Shaq 2000 is not happening, because those defenders are so low to the ground.

Plus, the Rockets switch all screens on defense. It won’t be as easy to set block-to-block screens to get Anthony Davis the ball in the mid-post area.

Nor would it be as easy to hunt mismatches. Houston loads up two extra help defenders to cut off all baseline and wing drives to the basket.


Houston’s defense will also play way off Lakers’ wings Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Danny Green. KCP and Green have been lambasted on this website for their poor outside shooting. They were hitting in the latter stages of the Portland series. The question is if they can continue to knock down shots at a scorching (actually more like league-average) rate.

If so, it’s a wrap for Houston. As it was for Portland. Houston will, and should, gamble that KCP and Green will regress to around 30% from three.

They like to force opposing offenses to attack them on an island. Their help defense does a great job of jumping the passing lanes.

See below.


This will be a recurring chess match as to whether LeBron James and Anthony Davis can get the ball down low.

Offense is always a step ahead of defense in the NBA. The Lakers will make the first move. They still have to be creative in initiating their high/low action between LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

What would be a good first move? Attack straight down the middle. Give Anthony Davis the ball at either the elbow or the low block. Let him catch and quickly take his patented turnaround jump shot. Use Danny Green and KCP as either the point guard or an off-ball screener to force the Rockets defenders to stay tighter on them.

Maybe something like: LeBron catches it at the left elbow. Danny Green or KCP (whoever the Rockets play the furthest off) sets a back screen to get AD to his preferred mid-post area. Kyle Kuzma, the team’s most proficient three-point shooter, can stay in the left corner.

Definitely look at how the Rockets switching defense can be used against them. There are several chess pieces that can be moved around to put the Rockets in check defensively.