NBA Playoff Betting Preview
LA Lakers at Houston Rockets
Sunday, 3:30PM Eastern
Betus.com betting line – Lakers -3.5, O/U 194
Lakers lead series 2-1
The Houston Rockets upset the Los Angeles Lakers inside the Staples Center to open up the series in a strong defensive performance 100-92. However, the hot hand of Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Lakers have responded strongly with two straight wins to grab the lead in the series. Bryant exploded in the victories dropping 73 combined points over those two games. The two teams have had some heated moments throughout the hard fought series. Derek Fisher was thrown out of Game 2 and suspended for Game 3 after throwing an intentional elbow to Rockets forward Louis Scola. Also, Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest have had their moments throughout the series as we move towards another expected physical Game 4 in Houston. For the Rockets, this has to be a must win scenario before they travel back to the Staples Centers where chances of winning diminish despite capturing a victory there in Game 1.
Houston will have to find a way to score more points if they plan on making the series a true fight. The Rockets have failed to reach the century mark in both of their losses against the dynamic offense of the Lakers. Yao Ming has been hampered by a left foot (ankle) injury that has reportedly slowed the 7’6 center down. Ming had 28 points in the opening victory, but has only had 31 points combined over the two losses. Ming needs to be able to become more effective on the inside both offensively and defensively. Ron Artest has not exactly played poorly as he has scored 25 points in each loss. However, Artest put up a lot of unnecessary 3 point attempts that certainly did not help any comeback efforts despite the Rockets closing the deficit to only 6 points in the 4th quarter of Game 3. Houston needs Artest intensity to stay up, but surely would not mind tad bit smarter shot selection. Shane Battier is the Rockets player everyone has their eye on mainly because he is the guy guarding Kobe Bryant. Battier known to be a great defensive player through his years at Duke will need to find a way to try and slow down Bryant. Battier does not have to shut down Bryant which is unlikely to happen, but rather just find a way to not let Bryant to post any huge numbers for the Rockets to have a legitimate chance of evening up the series.
Los Angeles did not really look like the normal Lakers team we are accustomed to seeing in Game 1. Outside of Kobe, only Pau Gasol had more than 10 points as the Lakers only shot 43% from the field. However, the Lakers bounced back strong as championship teams do knocking down 50% as a team in Game 2. The Lakers provided more of the same potent offense in Game 3 as they had 5 players with at least 12 points. The Lakers strong offense may just have too much firepower for the Rockets. Los Angeles was beaten pretty badly on the glass in Friday night’s battle as the Rockets out-rebounded the Lakers 56-43. Both teams did not shoot the ball extremely well, but the Lakers did knock down 55% from 3 point range which included 11 balls being drained from behind the arc. The 3 pointers and the Lakers +16 turnover ratio were the true deciding factors in capturing the victory in Houston. Bryant and company will try to deliver similar results in Game 4 and bring home the possibility of closing out the series at home in Game 5 this Sunday.
Pick – Lakers -3.5