Literally. We are witnessing the smallest team in the NBA take on Lebron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers starters, on average, have a 3 inch advantage over a Rockets team that comes in as the shortest team in the NBA. So, rebounding shouldn't be an issue for the Lakers in this series, yet in Game 1 they were out rebounded 53-47. The rockets normally don't care about out rebounding a team, they care about spreading you out defensively and firing off 3 point attempts. A strategy that can lead to blow out victories, but also allow teams back into games. You have to make them to win of course. That's where things go south sometimes in Houston. In their past three games they've hit from deep only 36.2% of the time. The Lakers average over the past three games sits at 39%. If this trend continues, this series could be over quick.
The factors that will keep the Rockets in or ahead of this series, is bench productivity and backcourt play. Some could argue this is the only strength they possess over the Lakers. LA's biggest weakness is guard play and bench scoring. Obviously, Lebron and AD won't have too much trouble finding the basket in this series, but can Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso and Danny Green step up. On top of that, the Rockets being able to line up James Harden and Russell Westbrook against KCP and maybe Rondo is what will cause headaches for the Lakers all night.
Bet On It
Let's take a look at some of the interesting lines, Draftkings has in store for this series. My personal favorite in any game and series is the First Field Goal bet. You can do it every game and some of the lines are great. For game 2, Draftkings has Robert Covington at +1600 to make the first shot. In this series I'd stick to the Rockets players. They fire shots off quickly and often throughout the course of a game. Two other exciting lines include, First to 50 Points and Game to go to OT. For game 2, Draftkings has the Rockets at +130 to hit 50 points first, something they accomplished in Game 1. For the Game to go to OT, Draftkings has it set at +1300 for yes.
Now let's take a look at some of the overall lines. Game Parlay's for the money line and O/U points in this series will be fun to bet on. For Game 2, Draftkings has the O/U set at 224.5 points, a number these teams can far exceed but also just as easily not reach. Picking the Rockets to win and the under sits at +265, which was the outcome for Game 1. Houston's defense has statistically been the best this post-season.
This NBA playoff Series Line on Draftkings has the Lakers favored at -560 and +370 for the underdog Rockets, which shouldn't really surprise anyone. Things get more interesting when you look at predicting Series Correct Score. Some of the good lines to take are as follows, LA Lakers to win 4-2 at +250, or Houston Rockets to win 4-3 at +550. The highest line in this category is, Houston Rockets to win 4-0 at +2000. I don't see that happening, but go crazy.
All in all, this is going to be a near impossible task for an already underperforming Rocket team to pull off an upset against the top seeded Lakers. Russell Westbrook is too much of a liability and the size difference between teams could finally bite the Rockets. Small ball could be dead after this series is over. If I was placing bets on any of the lines I previously mentioned, I would look at the individual player bets Go for the role players on Houston to score first, and definitely go for Harden to get a triple double. He absolutely has to for the Rockets to win this series.
Series wise, I don't see this one going very far. Lebron James led teams are historically good in the 2nd round. From 2009 to now, his teams have only lost once in the second round. He's swept teams 4 times in that span. I predict this one is over in 5, just like their first round against Portland. La Lakers to win at 4-1 sits at +370