Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets got out to a solid start in their series against the Los Angeles Lakers, as they were able to pull out a win in Game 1. Since then though, it’s been all L.A. as the Lakers have stepped up in a major way on the defensive end and in turn they have won three straight games to push Houston to the brink of elimination. 

For the most part, the Lakers have done a solid job of containing Rockets star guard James Harden, and making the other Rockets players beat them — something they’ve been unable to do. On the other end, the Lakers have capitalized on their size advantage — even while playing relatively small for themselves — as the Rockets have had no answer defensively for Anthony Davis. They’ll have to try to find one in Game 5 if they want to extend their season.  

Here’s everything you need to know about Game 5 between the Lakers and Rockets.   

Viewing information

  • Date: Saturday, Sept. 12 | 8 p.m. ET
  • Location: Disney Wide World of Sports — Orlando, Florida
  • TV: ESPN
  • Odds: Lakers -6.5 | Over/Under: 215

Storylines

Lakers: The Lakers are just one win away from their first conference finals appearance since 2010, so it’s safe to say they’ll be properly motivated to pull out a win on Saturday night. In order to do so, they’ll just have to do what they’ve done for the past three games: make things tough for Houston on the offensive end, while allowing Davis and LeBron to control things on the offensive end. Expect the Lakers to continue to send double-teams at Harden, and force other players on Houston to make plays. That formula has worked well for L.A. in the series so far. 

Rockets: Houston is going to do what it does: Get out in transition and shoot a whole lot of 3s. When those 3-pointers are dropping at a reasonable rate, Houston is very tough to beat, and that’s what it will be banking on in Game 5. If Harden continues to face tons of defensive pressure, it will be up to other players — like Russell Westbrook and Eric Gordon — to step up and knock down shots. If they’re unable to do so, the Rockets will be eliminated in the second round for the second straight season. 

Prediction

Since Game 1 the Lakers have largely controlled the series and there’s no reason to think that things will be different in Game 5. The Lakers are bigger and stronger than Houston, and they have used that size to their advantage on both ends of the floor. The Rockets have no answer for Anthony Davis inside, and in turn the Lakers will likely look to get him a ton of touches on Saturday night.  Pick: Lakers -6.5

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