The Houston Rockets had high hopes ahead of the 2020 NBA Playoffs. At the moment, it seems just like another huge disappointment for James Harden and his teammates.
The Rockets will take on the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night in Game 5 of their Western Conference Semifinals series, desperately looking for a win that would prolong their season.
We have prepared the must-read notes and tips for this marquee showdown in the bubble along with our best betting pick, so let’s take a closer look.
The Rockets lost Danuel House (personal) for the season, and the 27-year-old wing has already left the bubble. The Lakers, on the other side, might miss Dion Waiters who’s listed as doubtful due to a groin injury.
What’s at Stake?
The Lakers are just a step away from the conference finals, and their fans have been waiting for it since 2010 when the Lakers won their last championship. The Rockets have been suffering some painful playoff losses over the previous seven years and will be eliminated if they lose Saturday in Game 5.
After a 112-97 defeat in the opener, the Lakers have dominated the Rockets for three straight wins. It seems like they’re cruising through these semis, but finishing the job is never easy.
I’ve mentioned a few times through this series that Houston doesn’t stand a chance against the Lakers thanks to their special small-ball lineups. The Rockets will learn the hard way that defending skillful big men is impossible if they have Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker at five.
Anthony Davis is destroying the Rockets, shooting above 60 percent from the field in three of the previous four contests. The Brow had 29 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists in Game 4 while making 55.6% of his field goals.
The Lakers will continue to attack the rim, and I don’t see how the Rockets can stop them. Actually, I think they cannot deal with the Lakers defensively. LA posted 62 points in the paint in Game 4 while combining for 110 points in the paint in Game 2 and 3.
The Rockets will probably take a bunch of treys, hoping for a good shooting night. James Harden was awful last Thursday, scoring 21 points on a terrible 2-for-11 shooting from the field while making 16 of his 20 free-throw attempts. He had 10 assists, but Harden is obviously struggling against the Lakers’ D.
I’ve got burned on the Rockets last time out, believing they will manage to keep it close down the stretch. And after trailing by as many as 23 points, the Rockets were down 105-100 as 5.5-point dogs with 58 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, but they failed to cover eventually.
Now, the Lakers are 3-1 ATS in this series, and I’m taking them to cover a 4-point spread in Game 5 at -170 odds. They are a better team than the Rockets, especially on the defensive end, and the Lakers have a clear plan on how to beat Houston, as we saw in the last three encounters.