The Rockets have undergone a serious stylistic shift in 2019-20, largely a byproduct of swapping Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook. And that shift is most evident in Houston's pace. Westbrook and Co. finished the regular season No. 2 in pace after ranking No. 27 in 2018-19, and Houston raced past the Lakers on Friday night.
Lakers forward LeBron James complimented Houston's offense after the Rockets ran away with a 112-97 victory in Game 1. James went with a cross-sport comparison for the Rockets, comparing them to one of the greatest offenses in NFL history.
"[The Rockets] play with a lot of speed, both offensively and defensively," James said. "It’s like in the early 2000s, when the St. Louis Rams were The Greatest Show on Turf. People would always say how they’d scout them, and scout them, and scout them. Until they got on the field, and they’d see Isaac Bruce, and Torry Holt. Marshall Faulk, and Az-Hakim, and all those guys."
Houston may have run away with Game 1, but James is confident the Lakers can bounce back in Game 2. And he once again leaned on the NFL metaphor when considering how to slow Houston's attack.
"There’s no way you can simulate that speed," James said. "Getting out on the floor and having a Game 1 will give you a good feel for it."
James Harden led the Rockets' high-octane attack on Friday as he finished Game 1 with 36 points, including 20 in the first-half. He and the Rockets will look to take a 2–0 lead on Sunday night, with tip-off from Orlando slated for 7:30 p.m. CT.