I have two major thoughts going into this game. First of all, I'm sick of everyone in the media and Laker Nation acting like the Lakers played terribly all on their own. The Rockets forced those errors. Shane Battier made Kobe shoot from places that Battier wanted him too. Yao Ming really is that good, actually he's even better. So that's enough of that ridiculous line. Could the Lakers have played better? Sure, but if the Rockets play defense like that every game of the series, I absolutely guarantee a Rockets series win, with or without LA clicking on all cylinders going into that defense. Second, everyone is acting like the Rockets are void of talent and the Lakers are the greatest team in NBA history. Yes, clearly the Lakers are damn good. Kobe is the greatest player on the planet, I agree with that. But come on, the Rockets were 1 win against Memphis away from being the number 2 seed. Alright, now that I got that off my chest, on to the match-ups:
Brooks/Lowry vs. Fisher/Brown/Farmar - Game 1 was not a fluke. Brooks and Lowry are better than what the Lakers have to offer at the point. Why is it that people want to act like LA has no holes? They don't have many, I can freely admit that, but they are far from infallible. The Rockets have 2 point guards on the roster that would start for the Lakers, that right there gives them the edge. No I don't care if your homerism still thinks it's 5 years ago and Derek Fisher is good. Let's put it this way, I would give Rafer Alston the advantage here, that's how far Fisher has slipped. Now, this isn't to say that Brown and Farmar can't live up to their potential, just that they haven't, and it's not likely to start in this series.
Battier/Wafer/Artest vs. Bryant/Vujacic - While Battier is the small forward on offense, it is his defense that matters most in this series (and every other one for that matter). The Rockets effectively stopped
Artest/Battier vs. Ariza/Odom/Powell - Last game Dave assessed the Lakers with an edge at the small forward position. I questioned it because Artest is better than Odom, period. That said, he was comparing Battier here, and not Artest. Clearly with rotation and depth, the Lakers have a good combo at the 3, but the fact that Odom will play so much 4, means I’m comparing Artest to Ariza here, and that’s not contest. Ariza is solid and can be fun to watch, while Powell gives a lot fo the same energy that Carl Landry has given to the Rockets in the past. I’ve never bought into the Odom hype, but his two man game with Gasol is a thing of beauty. Hopefully the Rockets can continue to disrupt it with their power forwards ala Game 1.
Scola/Landry/Hayes vs. Gasol/Powell/Odom - I have to put a disclaimer here: I don’t like Pau Gasol, read any comments about him that I have with caution. He’s just never done anything to impress me past some nice stats. Yes he produced in
Edge: Lakers - But no where near as big as some think
Yao/Hayes vs. Bynum/Gasol/Mbegna - Will the Lakers double
Prediction: I'm sticking with my original prediction, it's been right so far. Lakers win Game 2, maybe even in a blowout. It won't matter though, Rockets are in this for the long haul.