By Craig Kwasniewski
Lakers win in 6... but it won't be easy... here's why:
-The Rockets defense will focus on shutting down Kobe with mixed coverage from Artest, Battier and probably a rotating guard giving D-Fish wide open jumpers... but since he officially expired on 04/01/09 and that Farmar's confidence is at UCLA football level... the Rockets will get away with rotating away from the Lakers 1-spot.
-Bynum/Gasol versus Yao/Scola in the front court is a wash. Scola's activity will confound the Lakers, who were exposed by Utah as weak on the defensive boards but Bynum's quickness will affect Yao in the post. Yao ain't facing the sluggish Blazers tandem of Oden-Pryzbilla this round.
-The Lakers will struggle early in the series. The Lakers will come off very rusty in Game 1but they'll eek out a W tonight. But they'll come in overconfident and lose Game 2 followed by a million "the playoff don;t start until the home team loses" cliches.
-The Rockets have the depth and hustle necessary to give the Lakers trouble but they don't have the offensive firepower. The only way they stand a chance is by slowing down the pace and making it a Jeff Van Gundy-type of series with the final scores in the 80's.
-This whole series comes down to one player:
The Rockets can defend Kobe with a Artest/Battie platoon but they don't have a player capaable of defending BOTH Kobe and LO. If Odom plays like he did against Utah, I can't see the Rockets stopping him. He's too long, agile, quick and smart enough for the Rockets to defend without letting Kobe get off.