The Los Angeles Lakers hope to take full command of their Western Conference Semifinals series against the Houston Rockets in Game 4. After an ugly Game 1 loss, the Lakers looked dominant defensively for a majority of the next two games to take a 2-1 series lead.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis, in particular, have made their mark on the Rockets. In Games 2 and 3, James averaged 32 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Davis put up equally absurd numbers of 30 points, 12.5 rebounds, and five assists.
And while the two wins and incredible performances from their stars would make it appear as though the Rockets are struggling, the statistics tell a different story.
During the 2019-20 season — both regular season and playoffs — the Rockets are 16-2 when they shoot at least 40% from the 3-point line. Those two losses have come in back-to-back games against the Lakers.
This is troubling for Houston, as they’ll need to lean on their shooting and star power to forge a comeback against L.A.
They also will have to do this without Danuel House Jr., who missed Tuesday and is out for Game 4 as the NBA investigates an alleged breach of protocol. Robert Covington, who is one of the Rockets’ most vital pieces, is playing after a hard hit to the head towards the end of Game 3.
Houston looked to Jeff Green and Ben McLemore to make up for the loss of House. And while Green shot the lights out, his defensive struggles were obvious.
Meanwhile, the Lakers are going to be without Dion Waiters for a second consecutive game due a sore left groin. JaVale McGee, listed as probable because of a sprained left ankle, is active, but replaced in the starting lineup by Markieff Morris.
While Lakers head Coach Vogel is certainly happy with the success of adjustments made so far, he warned about getting too comfortable against a James Harden-led team. “We’re doing a good job numerically. The thing about James and this team is you’re never comfortable,” Vogel said.
“It doesn’t matter what the score of the game is, what the series looks like, we’re not going to be comfortable against a team that has the type of firepower that they have. We’re just going to continue to try to execute our coverages and scheme to try to minimize him and the backside threes as much as possible.”
A Game 4 win would put the Lakers in excellent position to close the series out quickly, but a loss could shift the momentum back in Houston’s favor.
Lakers (2-1) vs. Rockets (1-2)
4:00 p.m. PT, Sep. 10, 2020
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando, Florida
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Danny Green
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Markieff Morris
Key Reserves: Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee
Projected Rockets Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: James Harden
SF: Eric Gordon
PF: Robert Covington
C: PJ Tucker
Key Reserves: Jeff Green, Ben McLemore, Austin Rivers
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