Friday, May 8, 2009

What to Look For In Tonight's Lakers-Rockets Game 3

Yesterday started with everyone talking about the physical Lakers-Rockets Game 2. That is until Manny Ramirez, Brett Favre, Dirk Nowitzki's fiance and the Arizona Diamondbacks pushed all that to the side.

So what about Game 3? What can we expect when these two teams meet up tonight for the first time since all the controversy?

YAO/PAU: Playoff series are filled with adjustments. The Lakers made the biggest adjustment so far by benching Andrew Bynum and starting Lamar Odom. That meant Yao Ming had to guard Pau Gasol and it obviously tired him out. Gasol has a very diverse game and it made Ming have to chase him around. I'm one of those people that believe the best way to defend Yao is to run him to death. Then he starts reaching in, getting to ballhandlers late and it seems to effect his intensity on the offensive end. Will the Rockets make a counter adjustment to this?

NO FISH-Y PLAY: After all the drama, the only person that won't be in uniform tonight is Derek Fisher. The debate is if that hit was a good or bad thing. We'll find out. The good part is that it showed Houston that the Lakers weren't backing down. The bad part is that the toughness that Fisher brings will be missing. That forces Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown to take over for Fish in dealing with the ultra-quick Aaron Brooks.

KOBE'S SHOTS FALLING: To me, a big difference between Games 1 and 2 is that Kobe Bryant's shot was falling. Shane Battier said it best when he suggested that Kobe got the exact same shots in both games but they were going in on Wednesday. One of the key stats to look at is Kobe's shots-to-points average.

THE REFEREES: One thing that you know the refs will do tonight is try to establish some peace right off the bat. They may call the game tight right off the back (eventually easing off) which could change a lot of gameplanning. Somebody is gonna pick up two or three quick ones and be forced to the bench.

RON ARTEST: I'm one of those people who though Artest got a bad rap in Game 2. He gets called for a foul when the league says Kobe flagrantly fouled him. He then gets tossed after arguing with Bryant. It will be interested to see Artest's approach tonight with his home crowd behind him. I think he will be assertive on both ends of the court. Remember the last time these two did the Texas two-step was when he and Kobe decided to chat all game long.

ROLE PLAYAS: Like always, the unknown is the role guys. The Lakers will be relying on theirs a bit more since Derek Fisher is sitting. It is widely believed that role guys play better at home, which means the Rockets should get an added boost. Someone is going to surprise and someone is going to disappear. The fun part is figuring out who that will be.

ROAD WARRIORS: The thing is that the Lakers are the NBA's best road team. LA went an amazing 29-12 ... including 2-0 in Houston.

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