Tonight marks what is probably Houston’s last game as underdogs in the seeding contests. Being the underdog has been good for Houston, as Vegas expected them to lose both games against Dallas and Milwaukee.
The last time these teams met resulted in a watershed moment for the Rockets and could possibly be looked at down the line as the moment when the NBA went small. That game was the first after the Rockets traded Clint Capela for Robert Covington and committed to small ball. With Chris Webber actively rooting for the plan to fail all night, the Rockets pulled out an impressive 121-111 win at Staples Center to validate Daryl Morey’s decision. It also further unlocked the Russell Westbrook Experience for the Rockets, which could pay dividends moving forward.
At its core though, it was just one game. And while tonight’s matchup is equally important for Houston in its quest for a favorable matchup in the first round, it isn’t much more important than any other single game.
The Lakers will be playing without Avery Bradley, who opted out of the restart, and Rajon Rondo, who is rehabbing a fractured thumb. LA still has LeBron James and Anthony Davis, so they’ll survive. They also have Danny Green, who has never missed a shot against the Rockets in his career (no need to check me on this because it’s 100% true).
If Houston has serious thoughts about getting a top 3 spot in the West, they probably need to win out. As it stands, it’s going to be a tough task to take down the team with the best record in the West tonight. It should be a fun one for sure.
The Lakers will be on a back-to-back after playing Oklahoma City on Wednesday evening. Houston’s back-to-back occurs next week.
Per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Westbrook is questionable for tonight’s game.
Rockets guard Russell Westbrook is listed as questionable to play against the Lakers with a bruised right quad.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) August 5, 2020
Tip-off is at 8pm CT on TNT and AT&T SportsNet Southwest