How the Los Angeles Lakers can exploit the Rockets’ tendencies

Los Angeles Lakers(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers /

Tendency Number Two: Houston’s switch-everything scheme

This second point undoubtedly relates to the first, as Houston’s lack of rim protection stems directly from the front office’s decision to prioritize same-size wings over traditional bigs.

By shipping out Clint Capela midseason and bringing in Covington, the Rockets effectively bet on the idea that switching across all positions defensively is more valuable than consistently contesting shots at the rim.

Not only will the Los Angeles Lakers put this risky gamble to the test through James’ and Davis’ drives to the rim, but they’ll also do so utilizing LeBron’s favorite crunch-time technique: the wing-wing pick and clear out.

Think back to the Lakers’ pre-shutdown win over the Clippers, when James spent the entire fourth quarter hunting Lou Williams on switches by bringing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso up towards him for screens. Or go even further back to the 2016 NBA Finals when he used the same exact strategy throughout the series to get Stephen Curry into early foul trouble.

In those two examples, the opposing teams tried desperately to avoid these disadvantageous switches, either through hedging or rapid doubling and recovery.

But now, playing against a Houston team designed specifically to switch in those situations…wow. Let’s just say that LeBron should be very excited.

Sure, Tucker and Covington are great defenders with the requisite size, strength, and lateral quickness to at least offer some resistance against James. But can the same be said about Westbrook or Harden? How about Austin Rivers or Ben McLemore? Can House really be trusted in those situations?

To be honest, those questions cannot be satisfied definitively at this stage. But, come Game 1, LeBron will quickly uncover the answers for himself.