The dust has barely settled on the Houston Rockets' epic Game 7 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. That huge win sent the Thunder packing, and has allowed the Rockets to set up a second-round matchup with the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.

There's not much time for Houston to celebrate their first-round series victory, as they only have a couple of days to prepare for what should be a tough challenge for them ahead.

The Lakers are the favorites to advance into the Western Conference Finals here, and will face the winners of the Los Angeles Clippers-Denver Nuggets series. The Rockets should be able to put up a formidable fight against the Lakers, but at the end of the day, LA will likely prevail as the winners of his second-round series.

Here are three key reasons why.

Matching the Small-Ball 

LeBron James, Lakers, Jay Williams, Scottie Pippen, Dwyane Wade

The Rockets have found unprecedented success thus far with their patented small-ball, centerless lineup. Houston head coach Mike D'Antoni deserves a ton of crediting for pioneering yet another revolutionary approach to the game, and it has certainly paid dividends for his team up until this point.

Unfortunately for the Rockets, the Lakers have the tools to match — and defeat — Houston's small-ball style.

If Lakers head coach Frank Vogel opts to match D'Antoni's style, then he could field his own small-ball lineup with LeBron James at the four and Anthony Davis at the five. Advantage LA.

On the other hand, Vogel could very well exploit their height advantage here, playing Davis at his preferred power forward position, and either JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard at center. The undersized Robert Covington has been doing a stellar job at being Houston's focal point on the defensive end, but he will have his hands full here in trying to stop Davis. This would leave a guy like P.J. Tucker on Howard, with the latter possessing a huge advantage on the block.

Either way, the Lakers seem to have a significant edge over the Rockets.

Form and Fatigue

Lakers, LeBron James

The simplest explanation here is that the Lakers are coming off exactly five days of rest following their Game 5 elimination of the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. On the contrary, the Rockets had only a solitary day off before returning to the court to face off against LA on Thursday night. Moreover, Houston went the distance against the Oklahoma City Thunder in their first-round matchup. Clearly, the Lakers hold the advantage here in terms of being the more rested squad.

The counterargument here is that rust might play a factor for LA, while the Rockets have momentum on their side. This was the case for the Blazers stealing Game 1 against the Lakers, so this factor cannot be overlooked. Then again, we all know how the Lakers-Blazers series turned out.

Moreover, if you look at the dynamic duos of both teams, it is clear that it is that of LA that has been more on point in the playoffs thus far. LeBron and Davis cruised in the first round against the Blazers, shooting 60.0 and 57.3 percent from the field, respectively. Notably, James also made his shots from distance, going 13-of-28 against Portland for a 46.4-percent clip.

On the other hand, James Harden shot 46.5 percent against the Thunder, which actually isn't bad. Russell Westbrook, however, who missed the first four games in the first round due to injury, has shot just 41.7 percent from the floor in three contests.

There's no denying that the play of these four guys will determine how each of their teams fare in this series, and at this point, it would be safe to say that at least form-wise, the advantage goes to the Lakers again.

The Other Guys

Lakers, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo

Aside from the aforementioned superstars on both squads, the other guys on either teams will also play a huge role in this series.

The Rockets will have to rely heavily on guys like Eric Gordon, Covington, Ben McLemore, Jeff Green, Danuel House Jr. and P.J. Tucker to provide some much-needed help for Harden and Westbrook. You have a couple of noteworthy guys on there in the sharp-shooting Gordon, as well as the extremely impressive Covington.

They will, however, need to match up against a much stronger Lakers roster. Howard, Danny Green, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Quinn Cook and even J.R. Smith provide championship experience for a veteran Lakers squad. Kyle Kuzma is an absolute stud, and guys like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, and Markieff Morris should be able to provide quality minutes for LA.

The Lakers front office has done a very impressive job in putting together a squad that possesses the tools to compete for a championship, and this will be on full display against the Rockets in the Western Conference Semifinals.