The Western Conference semifinals are officially set. The Los Angeles Lakers will play the Houston Rockets in the second round after the Rockets beat the Thunder in dramatic fashion on Wednesday.
The Lakers and Rockets have played each other 35 times in the NBA playoffs, with their last meeting coming in 2009, when they faced off in the Western Conference semifinals. The Lakers won that series in seven games thanks to a dominant Game 7 performance from Pau Gasol, who tallied 21 points, 18 rebounds and 3 blocks. The Lakers went on to win the NBA Finals over the Orlando Magic.
This season, the Lakers won’t have to worry about the Magic or their All-Star center Dwight Howard, but there’s reason to believe that their series with the Rockets will be just as competitive as it was in 2009.
The Lakers lost their regular season series with the Rockets 2-1, despite the fact that the Rockets didn’t have a single big man on the floor in either of their wins. If small-ball is the Lakers’ kryptonite, the Rockets are Krypton.
Here’s the full schedule for the second round:
Game 1: Friday, Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. PT on ESPN
Game 2: Sunday, Sept. 6 at 5:30 p.m. PT on ABC
Game 3: Tuesday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m PT on TNT
Game 4: Thursday, Sept. 10 on TNT
Game 5: Saturday, Sept. 12 on ESPN
Game 6: Monday, Sept. 14 on TNT
Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 16 on TNT
There’s no doubt that the Lakers would have rather drawn the Thunder in the second round, but the Rockets will be a good test for them. I just personally feel bad for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso and Danny Green, who will have to transition from Portland’s three-headed monster to Houston’s superstar back court. Part of me also feels bad for Mike D’Antoni, who will likely lose his job if he loses this series even though he’s a really good coach. If Mike can let bygones be bygones with the Lakers and Howard, he’d be a great complement to Frank Vogel. I’m just saying!
As noted above, the Lakers will play Game 1 on Friday at 6 p.m. PT on ESPN.
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