Welcome to our first ever NBA Playoff Blogger Faceoff, where we pit our favorite team-related writers against each other to let them tell why the teams they represent will win their first round matchups. We gave them no set format, no style guide – we just told them to do their thing. Check it out and join in the debate in the comments section.
Next up: 1. Lakers vs. 5. Rockets
WHY THE LAKERS WILL WIN
Written by Kurt of ForumBlueandGold
The Lakers are going to advance past the Rockets simply because they can outscore them. Houston is a good defensive team, but they try to funnel everything into Yao Ming (with good reason), the problem is the Lakers can attack with many different weapons from many different places on the court, they cannot be funneled as easily as the TrailBlazers were.
Also, the Lakers will run this series, getting down the court and getting mismatches in transition, as the Rockets bigs do not run well and only Yao blocks shots well. The Lakers will wear Yao down — harder to do than it was a couple years ago, but it can be done. They also will attack him directly and try to get him in foul trouble, getting him out of the game.
While all this is happening, the Rockets offense is pretty basic — get the ball to Yao. The problem becomes if you can stymie that they have nobody (outside Von Wafer off the bench) that can create his own shot. The result is Ron Artest jacking up a contested jumper. The Lakers in the crunch can shut down the Rockets — the Rockets cannot do the same to the Lakers.
Then there is Kobe Bryant. Despite what you read in the New York Times, Kobe shot 53% against the Rockets this year and 50% from three, scoring 28 points a game in some of his most efficient play. The Rockets really have no good answer for this, and they can’t match the scoring output.
WHY THE ROCKETS WILL WIN
Written by David Clark of TheDreamShake
Yes, the rumors you have heard are true. The Houston Rockets will defeat the Los Angeles Lakers. Why? The Rockets simply have nothing to lose.
After clearing the first-round hurdle with a convincing series victory over the upstart Blazers, the Rockets no longer have any pressure. Instead of Tracy McGrady sulking around and disappearing in the fourth quarter, the Rockets now feature Ron “Crazy Pills” Artest, the man who is so relaxed he will go into the stands to share a beer with fans mid-game — and then turn a post-game interview into an impromptu comedy routine. No longer are the Rockets timid or unsure. This version is a whole different animal. (*Insert obligatory “Wolverine” movie advertisement here.*)
On the flip side, the Lakers have the burden of expectations. A humbling defeat in the NBA Finals last year supposedly has Kobe Bryant obsessed with winning it all this year. The Rockets, however, are the only team that can throw two elite defenders on Bryant at all times. Artest has already started the mind games when he stated that Brandon Roy — and not Kobe — was the best shooting guard he’s ever had to defend. Kobe may revert to the “old” Kobe, and try too hard to win it by himself. After Artest gets Kobe to turn the series into a 1-on-1 battle, the Rockets win.
While the Lakers do have Kobe … the Rockets have an answer. Two, in fact. But the Rockets have Yao Ming. And no one has an answer for the Great Wall. Andrew Bynum is not in the Hall of Fame yet. No matter how many Laker fans want to put him there already. Prepare to be humbled, Mr. Bynum.
Check out all of the Blogger Faceoff Series HERE