Friday, April 3, 2009

Match Up: Rockets & Lakers+ game preview

So DP and I had this half hour long convo over facebook the other night, and we were just railing on about a bunch of different stuff, some girl, the differences between Australia and the USA with ages, e.g Sweet 16th, 18th, 21st birthday.
Then we shifted on towards a more basketball-orientated theme when I noticed the Bobcats (!) had beaten the Lakers.
Naturally, DP was upset, and I was just rubbing it in, saying how BET would be stoked, and we'd likely see a blog post up soon ( check below this for that) showing him gloat.
This got me to thinking- the Cats have LA's number- they swept the season series, and they've also given the Celtics fits the last year or two.
But it also brought to my attention just how vulnerable the Lakers may prove to be in the playoffs. Last year they destroyed the Nuggets (and rightfully so), with Kobe going off for 30+ in every game. They then got the Jazz in the second round, fresh off a 7 game grind with the Rockets. The Lakers moved on, winning the Western Conference eventually, and fizzled out badly in the Finals, thats a story we all know well.
The thing that strikes me though, is how well the Lakeshow (it just doesn't sound right to me...) matched up with other teams they played throughout the playoffs. And when the met the Celtics, who matched up better, they got destroyed.
So, continuing with my little jabs at DP, I said that the Lakers would struggle to even make it out of the West (just for closure, I said that the Cavaliers or Celtics would be representing the East. Duh).
But think about it for a minute, how do the Lakers match up with the Rockets? Just off the top of my head, I said pretty average. I mean, they both score the ball ok, the Lakers a little easier, while the Rockets are a solid defensive team, kinda making that a wash.
Go deeper. Look at how the teams match-up position wise. Start with the Lakers on the left.

Fisher vs. Brooks

Edge: Lakers. Slightly.

Fish has done it all before and is going to stretch the Rockets. If he can occassionally get into the paint against the much quicker Brooks, it'll create problems for Yao, who has to come out and help.

If Brooks can stop Fisher from posting him up, and can run him around in transition, I think it could be an even match-up. Other than that, Fish is the veteran, and the Lakers are more poised in general. Hopefully Brooks can get into the paint as well with his superior speed and athleticism.

Bryant vs. Artest

Edge: Lakers. Slight.

I call it pretty even for a few reasons. Artest is the superior defender. Without question. Bryant is the superior offensive player. Without question. They can play both sides of the ball and are two of the most versatile players in the league.

Kobe destroyed Ron Ron in their last match-up with 32 in the second half. Ron had a terrible offensive showing and finished just over double digits. If Ron can focus on team oriented defense then he has a better opportunity to stop Kobe at the same time, because he knows Battier and Yao will be there to help out as well. Kobe once again, needs to trust his team and not force issues, but slowing down Artest on the block is going to be huge for Bryant, because once Ron gets going offensively, he's even more dangerous defensively.

Ariza vs. Battier

Advantage: Rockets.

Eh. This is a wash. Ariza with the athleticism, Battier with the smarts. Both can play defense, Battier is superior though, and has (shock horror!) actually contributed offensively the last few games, averaging over 12 points a game (almost double his season average). I think having Battier in the corner for 3pointers may give a slight edge to the Rox, since it spaces everything out, similiar to Fisher. But his ability to come and give Kobe fits also helps out.

Odom vs. Scola

Advantage: Lakers.

Versatility is the key. Both rebound very well and Scola is the more polished scorer, but Odoms ability to run the break off a board and find open guys is significant.

Gasol vs. Yao

Advantage: Rockets.

As good as Pau is, and as skilled as he is, anyone going up against Yao is at a disadvantage. Yao will just bully him away from the paint and force him to shoot 12-15 footers (which Pau can make) but Yao is going to have his way inside, and should be able to get a 25/15 type game. This hasn't been the case in recent games, as the Lakers have doubled from the weakside baseline, and Yao's had difficulty throwing out of the double from that spot. The Rockets have apparently worked on this, and should prove less troublesome.


Advantage: Rockets. Hayes is a defensive beast, Landry may play today, Von Wafer is instant offense and Lowry is a very solid backup, likewise with Mutumbo.

Farmar has (IMO) regressed from last year, and he's less consistent, forcing more minutes on an ageing Fisher. The loss of Radman hurts them, and Adam Morrison isn't comfortable yet. Sun Yue is a joke right now, and cant get off the bench (sorry China).


Jackson vs. Adelman.

Advantage Jackson. He's had the wood over Rick for a good decade+ and his victories over the Kings has to be demoralising. He's as good as anyone with game to game adjustments, and there's something called the 'triangle' offense?

The Rockets are still having troubles performing Adelman's 'read and react' motion based offense 2 years in. The supporting staff is great for both teams.

Final: I think the Rockets can pull this off, but it truly depends on how Ron plays on Kobe, and how physical the refs allow play to be- if this is the case, Yao should be able to punish Pau around the hoop. Homecourt means a lot too, even though the Lakers have won the last three games. Being at Staples Centre makes it hard to win, but with wins over SA, and NO on the road the last week and a disapponting loss to the Suns, the Rockets need to bounce back.

The Lakers have also suffered losses lately, and a 6 pt win over the Bucks was less than convincing.


Lakers by 3, because Yao gets into early foul trouble in the second quarter.


BET said...

first again!
Wasnt their pictures or was i/ am i just blazed?

Hursty said...

There was a picture, but the computer was being very un-coperative, and made me change it after I pressed 'post'....
If it actually came through, I dunno.
It was of Kobe calling for the ball and Ron Ron pushing him off the block?

Moose said...

Cleveland's gonna take it home this year.

jameyburke said...

Moose-that was a typo about Cleveland right..? I am VERY disappointed in you my man...

BET said...

moose: +5!!!

BET said...

i enjoy skipping services, its my new theme of the week!

Moose said...

@ Jamey: That doesn't mean that I'm rooting for Cleveland. I just think that nobody can handle the Cavs. I'm going for the Celtics, seriously. You know I'm a real fan of em, just I'm afraid of the Cavaliers. Should be interesting.

jameyburke said...

I know..just busting your chops. If Big Baby can keep playing like he has, that will be huge. It's going to be a tough assignment repeating with Ticket not at 100%..

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