Oklahoma City Thunder (13-13, 6-6 road) at L.A. Lakers (22-4, 15-2 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 105.3 (21st), Lakers – 107.8 (14th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 104.1 (7th), Lakers – 98.7 (1sr)
Pace: Thunder – 91.7 (21tst), Lakers – 94.6 (8th)
View from the enemy: Forum Blue and Gold
Being a slightly blinded fan is weird. On one hand, you’re completely realistic. You know when your team should win, you ALWAYS fear they will lose, but you often know when they’ll lose. But you also always have this small part of you that plays the “What If?” game. We all do it. What if Kevin Durant gets hot? What if Kobe is off? What if Russell Westbrook breaks out? What if the Lakers are flat? And on and on.
But you know what? Put all those things together and the Lakers are winning this game. Kobe could be off, Durant could get 50, Westbrook could play awesome and L.A. could mail it in. They’ll win. They’re that good. And Oklahoma City isn’t a pushover squad where someone can play poorly and still beat them. But with the Lakers, I think they can. The Thunder has to be perfect, absolutely perfect, to have a chance. This game at the Ford Center? I don’t hate OKC’s chances. At Staples? Ehhhh.
Los Angeles coming in has won four straight, most previously having lose to Utah. Before that, LA had won 11 in a row, so that’s 15 of 16 right now for the Lakers. Pau Gasol is back, so right now the Lakers are at full strength.
I just don’t know how anyone can match LA inside. With Gasol back, him and Andrew Bynum are near impossible to control. Especially for an undersized team like OKC. Part of me wonders if the Thunder should just go small from the beginning and try to out-quick LA on the block. Maybe get one or both in foul trouble. Nenad Krstic hasn’t been playing all that awesome anyway, so maybe a heavy dose of Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison at the five is a good idea, as well as maybe going with a four guard/forward lineup with Livingston, Westbrook, Harden, Durant and Green. Obviously OKC would get obliterated inside, but how do you realistically match up there anyway?
Kevin Durant has been off lately and he’s not going to get any break as Ron Artest comes calling again. Artest always gives KD some trouble mainly because Artest bullies and gets under and inside Durant. Thabo will obviously guard Kobe, but the question is how much? It’s going to be tough for the Thunder to score with the Lakers so one might think James Harden would get early burn, and Scott Brooks to just try and score with LA.
OKC has an advantage with their bench, but when the Lakers starting five is as good as it is, the bench doesn’t really matter. They could have Earl Watson and a game hen coming off the pine and they’d be fine. The goal tonight is you want to be competitive, you want to have at least an opportunity to win in the fourth. We all know what the final result will likely be, but still, what if?
Tip at 9:30. Go What If.