The pressure is on the Los Angeles Lakers—no one expected the series to go seven games but it has. The good news is that the Lakers are back at home. The bad news is that the Lakers didn't take care of business lost Game Six and have to play in an all important Game Seven.
This isn’t the type of situation that the Lakers wanted to be in, as they haven’t been in this position in a while. This is the playoffs folks, this is the epitome of the phrase “win or go home,” this speaks to the finality of the situation.
The Lakers know what they have to do, the team fought to earn the home court advantage in the event they were put into this situation. But, this is a different Rockets team than the one the Lakers faced this season, and Los Angeles has to adjust to this team on the fly.
The Lakers need to adjust to the Rockets being physical with them on the block by being physical themselves. Too many times when teams are physical with the Lakers, the team settles for jump shots. That can not happen today—the Lakers need to use ball movement and player movement to find the open man who needs to take a high percentage shot.
The Lakers need to attack the basket early and often, this is the attack-the-rim time of the year. It is what it is; the Lakers know what is at stake and will deal with it. The real question is: What type of energy, effort, and resolve the team will bring into this game?
The Lakers have been wildly inconsistent from game-to-game. The Lakers need to have a high energy level, increased effort, and play with a sense of urgency. They need to play hard & commit to playing solid defense, the type of defense that the team played in the 40-point beat-down administered in Game Five.
It is imperative that the Lakers increase the intensity of their defense and get off to a fast start so they aren’t playing uphill. The team that has won the 1st quarter has won the game several times in this series. Kobe Bryant will provide a stellar performance, as usual, but the rest of team has to knock down shots.
The Lakers will win by doing something that they haven’t done with any consistency. They need to control the tempo, the glass, get back in transition, stop the dribble penetration, and, most importantly, rotate out to three point shooters.
Nothing can be left to chance, the Lakers need to stop the pick-and-roll play of Aaron Brooks and make the screener Chuck Hayes beat you. When the Lakers got back into the game the Rockets used the pick-and-roll play to distance themselves.
This game and the rest of the playoffs for the Lakers is about their defensive intensity, focus and controlling the painted area.
The Lakers know what they’re dealing with—a scrappy trio of energy and effort guys in Luis Scola, Carl Landry, and Chuck Hayes. They need to match the intensity, effort, and energy of these guys and the entire Rockets team.
L.A. needs to limit the Rockets to one shot per possession and contest every shot. Despite the fact that Houston was able to dominate the paint in Game 6; that will not happen again. This has been an action packed playoff series the will end today, the Lakers will be ready to play.
To be a champion you have to rise to the occasion and overcome obstacles like this. You’ll see a game-ready focus from the Lakers. Kobe Bryant will start fast, aggressive start and set the tone his teammates will follow his lead. The world watched the Spike Lee Joint, "Kobe Doin' Work" on ESPN over the weekend, and we will have the opportunity to see him doin' work again today live on ABC.
Photo Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
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