After a rocky start to the 2020 NBA Playoffs — losing Game 1 of the first round to the Portland Trail Blazers — the Los Angeles Lakers turned it around and dominated the rest of the way, leading to a 4-1 series win.
Now, they will have a more difficult challenge in store for them for the Western Conference Semifinals as they face the Houston Rockets.
Despite immense struggles during the eight seeding games, the Lakers very quickly found their way against the Trail Blazers. They took advantage of an undermanned and truly outmatched team, leading to some big wins.
In five games, the Lakers held a dangerous offense that averaged 115.0 points per game during the regular season to just 106.6. They also had a net rating for the series of 10.4, ranking third among all first round teams.
Only the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics — who swept their opponents — ranked higher.
L.A. must now turn their attention to the small-ball stylings of the Rockets, who completely re-defined the five positions this season by trading away most of their big man. They instead opted for PJ Tucker at center, an experiment that has led to surprising success so far.
Although they were challenged in the first round by the Thunder, they were able to get past them and will now pose a unique challenge for the post-heavy Lakers.
With the Lakers eliminating Portland much earlier than the conclusion of the Rockets-Thunder series, L.A. has had plenty of rest before beginning what will undoubtedly be a challenging series.
Game 1 of the best-of-seven matchup is Friday, and follows the pattern of the bubble with games played every other day.
The Lakers found success in their game plan against Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. However, James Harden and Westbrook are a completely different beast, and perimeter defense will be more important than ever.
Perhaps a reduction in minutes for JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard – as well as the re-introduction of Rajon Rondo into the rotation – will be among the required adjustments. However it unfolds, head coach Frank Vogel is confident in the Lakers’ ability to play small if necessary.
Rockets vs. Lakers schedule and TV Info for first round
Friday, Sep. 4: Game 1, Lakers vs. Rockets, 6 p.m., ESPN
Sunday, Sep. 6: Game 2, Lakers vs. Rockets, 5:30 p.m., ABC
Tuesday, Sep. 8: Game 3, Lakers @ Rockets, 6 p.m., TNT
Thursday, Sep. 10: Game 4, Lakers @ Rockets, TBD, TNT
Saturday, Sep. 12*: Game 5, Lakers vs. Rockets, TBD, ESPN
Monday, Sep. 14*: Game 6, Lakers @ Rockets, TBD, TNT
Wednesday, Sep. 16*: Game 7, Lakers vs. Rockets, TBD, TNT
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!