Los Angeles Lakers: All eyes on Anthony Davis in Houston showdown

Los Angeles Lakers Anthony Davis (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers Anthony Davis (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

All eyes will be on Anthony Davis as the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Houston Rockets.

The star players carrying the most pressure in these NBA bubble playoffs are absolutely the Robins to their respective Batmans in the City of Angels. I’m talking about Los Angeles Lakers‘ Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Paul “Playoff P” George, of course.

Along with soon-to-be back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, they will be drawing the most eyeballs this round given their lack of deep playoff success.

Specifically for Davis, as he gears up for just his second conference semifinal playoff series in his outstanding eight-year career, he must be the dominant top-five player and league’s best true big man that we know him to be versus the Houston Rockets.

“The Brow”, standing at a quite tall 6’10”, will be seeing plenty of 6’8″ Jeff Green, 6’7″ Robert Covington, and yes, even first-team all-grit and dog member in 6’5″ P.J. Tucker, as his defensive oppositions.

Therefore, with Davis’ exquisitely polished post skill set and an ability to score facing up and backing down in a multitude of ways, every post touch he gets should result in two points for him or an open shot for a teammate forced by a Houston double team.

Is Tyson Chandler a threat to the Los Angeles Lakers?

No, even if Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni decides to shift the game plan for LA and give his only true big available in 7’0″ veteran Tyson Chandler big minutes, the same expectation and pressure apply. Chandler’s services don’t suffice as an excuse for the elite talent of AD. Not in LA. Sorry.

But don’t expect it. Since Houston acquired him, Chandler has only averaged eight minutes a game. They also traded away their bona fide rim protector and James Harden’s pick and roll partner Clint Capela to Atlanta back in February.

Why do away with the big man entirely if you’re D’Antoni? It’s completely logical considering Houston star guard Russell Westbrook is a putrid perimeter shooter but an incredibly captivating finisher driving to the hole.

If you’re Houston, you certainly don’t want Westbrook’s greatest threat to score compromised with a clogged up paint. Westbrook’s numbers have improved noticeably since the departure of Capela and Houston’s full commitment to small ball.

Unfortunately for Houston, they have a problem as this Lakers team’s calling card is their size and strength. LeBron James, the greatest, most powerful driver to the hoop ever, is leading the way. The aforementioned Davis, Dwight Howard, and JaVale McGee will also provide size mismatches.

Though Howard and McGee probably won’t see many minutes because they’d be forced to defend Houston’s much quicker wings on the perimeter, their shot-blocking and altering ability could help on Westbrook and Harden attacking.

But again, it’s all about that man, AD. It’s his first NBA season on a legitimate title-contending team and first season in title thirsty Tinseltown. He’s never been to a conference finals, but has a grand opportunity to be a driving force to do so versus a team he matches up more favorably with than any other bubble team. He should realistically have multiple 40 point, 15 rebound type of games this series.

Having said that, LA has concerns of their own trying to deal with the scoring prowess of “The Beard” and “The Brodie.” Even with seasoned point guard and plus defender Rajon Rondo returning, they don’t have the horses on the perimeter that their LA counterpart the Clippers do to disrupt the dynamic former MVP duo.

Next. How the Lakers can overcome Houston's tendencies. dark

Expect the sheer greatness of those two and the Los Angeles Lakers role players’ struggles in the bubble to force this series to go six games. But ultimately, the literal elephant in the room in Davis, and the unstoppable nature of him and LeBron together, will be too much to overcome for H-Town.