By: Frank Hyden
-The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Houston Rockets 119-96 to win the series 4-1 and advance to the Western Conference Finals. James Harden had 30 points but no one else had above 13 points whereas the Lakers got 29 points and 11 rebounds from LeBron James. The Rockets are all small ball and that works in the regular season for sure. However, as with all lineups and types of strategies, you have to have the right talent to make it work. Small ball worked for the Golden State Warriors because you had two tremendous shooters in Clay Thompson and Steph Curry. The odds of both of those guys shooting poorly in a game was fairly low. And they still only beat the Cleveland Cavaliers that one year because Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were both hurt in 2015, and then in 2016 they gagged away a 3-1 series lead and in 2017 and 2018 you added Kevin Durant to the Warriors.
My point is, you have to have the right team in order to have success. That’s regardless of whether you’re playing small ball, big ball, or whatever you want to call your lineup. Small ball can work but you have to have a bunch of lights-out shooters. You also need at least 2 guys who can create their own shots whenever they want and create shots for others whenever they want. Russell Westbrook is a tremendous talent but he’s not a great shooter. James Harden is a pretty good shooter but he’s not a great shooter. A lot of his points come from the free throw line, he actually has more made free throws than made field goals for his career. That’s a crazy stat. There’s only one other player in NBA history who has that distinction, Dolph Schayes being the other. If the refs aren’t calling a lot of fouls, it becomes a lot harder for Harden to get as many points as he usually gets. That’s a problem in the playoffs, where the refs don’t always call fouls as much. The Rockets can still make a title run but they need to add a tremendous talent to this squad without losing anybody from the squad, and that’s not likely to happen so they’re not likely to make a title run.
-In college football, #1 Clemson beat up on Wake Forest 37-13 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates, #5 Oklahoma destroyed Missouri State 41-0, #10 Notre Dame didn’t play all that well but still beat Duke 27-13, #14 Texas walloped UTEP 59-3, #18 North Carolina beat up on Syracuse 31-6, and #23 Iowa State lost to Louisiana 31-14. There was a few postponed games but most went off without a hitch and the fans in the stands in games seemed to be following protocol so hopefully we get the season going off without a hitch. Same goes for the NFL. Hopefully 2020 doesn’t take our football from us as well.
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