HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610)- Even before becoming Rockets head coach, Stephen Silas always had the Los Angeles Lakers on his radar.
"I studied them when I was in the interview process," Silas said Saturday, a day before facing off against the defending champs for the first of two games at Toyota Center.
The Rockets 2020 season ended with four straight losses against the Lakers, and Silas tried to figure out why, specifically, how they were able to slow James Harden.
"When I first got here I wanted to take a look at the double teams," Silas said.
Silas explained when most teams deploy double teams against James Harden they'll do it early in a possession, sometimes before he even crosses the midcourt line, but not Los Angeles.
"They'll do it later (in the possession) as opposed to earlier, some, and LeBron (James) is the quarterback or the middle linebacker and points guys in that direction and gets them organized for (the double teams), so we'll be ready for them."
The Lakers will arrive at Toyota Center with the NBA's best record, third best offense and sixth best defense, so for the Rockets it will be an early look at how they stack up against one of the league's best teams.
"We definitely look at this as a test to see where our team stands and we want to go out there and compete and try to get a win," Rockets guard John Wall said.
Due to injuries, along with health and safety protocols, the Rockets have seen key contributors shuffle in and out of the lineup, but they should have all of their key players available on Sunday, minus Danuel House, who will miss his fourth straight game due to back spasms, so the stakes will be a bit higher.
"It's always exciting to play against one of the best teams," Harden said. "We gotta come out prepared and ready to play."
Harden says the excitement level for the next two games is not ratcheted up because his team his facing the squad that eliminated it a few months ago.
"When the Lakers come to town it's exciting."
The Rockets and Lakers will play a second game on Tuesday at Toyota Center.