Going into Game 1 between the Lakers and Rockets, the classic question of rest came into play as the Lakers seemingly had an inherent advantage after having six days off between their Game 5 win against the Trail Blazers and Game 1 against the Rockets. Houston on the other hand was coming off a grueling seven-game series against the Thunder that ended two days before they had to take on the one-seeded Lakers. The Rockets were either going to come out looking tired, or they were going to look much more energetic due to them being in “must-win mode” for a few days now. Alex Caruso slightly noted this in his post-game comments, while also noting the fact that the Lakers had to split their attention to both the Rockets and Thunder in the days leading up to Game 1 due to the seven games they had to play in their series (quote from his answer to Allie Clifton’s questioning on Spectrum SportsNet).
“It’s tough not having a lot of time to prepare. Them going to Game 7 and us coming off a week delay. You don’t like to use that excuse, and I’m not trying to, but obviously you saw we were just a little off rhythm, right? Rotations on defense, offensive movement, just a little lethargic at times. I think that had to do a little bit with us not playing in a while, but also their switching and their small-ball lineup, trying to do that it frustrates you. So I think it’s mainly on us getting back to doing what we’re doing, following the gameplan, and playing with some pace on offense.”
"I don't think we played as hard as we could and that falls on nobody's shoulders but our own." @ACFresh21 (14 PTS, 4 AST) with @RealAClifton on tonight's #Lakers performance. pic.twitter.com/Dm0aUeu7OB
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) September 5, 2020
This wasn’t the only time that Alex Caruso brought up the Lakers’ lack of preparation for the Rockets due to their seven-game series, briefly bringing up the same idea to Kyle Goon of the OC Register. He elaborated more on the Lakers’ Game 1 struggles to Allie Clifton and Spectrum SportsNet, saying the Game 1 loss reminded him of the Game 1 loss to the Trail Blazers only a few weeks ago.
(On whether their adjustments will be due to energy or schematics moving forward)
“You know, I think it’s both. I don’t think we played as hard as we could, and that falls on nobody’s shoulders other than our own. You know the five guys that are out there and everybody else that’s around them. Like I said, them coming off a Game 7, they had that energy and they have that sense of urgency that I think we were lacking a little bit at times tonight just coming off that break. It kind of had that seem feel as the Portland Game 1 when we were kind of in it but we weren’t really ourselves, and then they kind of pull away late. Hopefully, we can repeat history and come out better in Game 2.”
We’ll see how the Lakers respond in Game 2 on Sunday.