OKC Thunder (27-13, 12-7 road) at Los Angeles Lakers (30-12, 16-5 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.9 (8th), Lakers – 112.0 (1st)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 107.9 (17th), Lakers – 104.9 (9th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.3 (10th), Lakers – 92.4 (16th)
View from the enemy: Forum Blue and Gold
(Also, I answered some questions for this game at the outstanding ESPN LA Land O’Lakers blog.)
The last time we saw the Lakers, Pau Gasol was breaking our hearts with a last second tip-in. Remember that? I’m sure you do. In fact, here’s a reminder in video form, just to bring up bad memories and re-open those wounds.
This is one of those regular season games with a little extra buzz on it. It’s no more important to the standings than a road game in Memphis, but it just has that feel to it. The Thunder is back on the national stage (7-0 on the season) against probably the most visible team out there. It’s a game everyone has their eye on and a game where OKC can make another statement. So all of those things add up to a little extra importance.
Los Angeles coming in: The Lakers played yesterday in L.A. losing on the “road” to the Clippers. So naturally, I take this as a bad sign for the Thunder since the Lakers will most definitely want to get back on track after the loss. Before yesterday, the Lakers had won seven straight.
Where the Lakers hold a dominant edge is inside. It was the same story last April during the opening round of the playoffs and it’s the same story for this one. Between Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, the Lakers have two towers that the Thunder just have a really hard time matching up with. In fact, everybody has that same problem with the Lakers.
We know the keys pretty well to this matchup. Ron Artest is a good defender and will try and lock down Kevin Durant. Russell Westbrook will be huge with his advantage over Derek Fisher. Jeff Green needs to step up in a big way and hit some shots. Serge Ibaka and Nenad Krstic need to play big on the inside and grab some rebounds.
And Thabo has to play some serious defense against Kobe Bryant.
We know what OKC has to do to win this game. We know these Lakers pretty well. The Thunder’s won four straight and the Lakers are looking to get back on track after a bad loss to the Clippers. OKC has played some seriously good offense lately but the Thunder will have to show up on the defensive end in order to win. Another chance at a statement. Another chance to prove to people — the Thunder fanbase included — that this team actually is pretty good.
Tip at 9:30 CT. Go Revenge, Albeit Small.