Los Angeles Lakers (41-19, 20-11 road) vs. OKC Thunder (36-21, 20-8 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.5 (6th), Lakers– 111.9 (2nd)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 108.3 (16th), Lakers – 105.1 (11th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.0 (12th), Lakers – 91.2 (20th)
View from the enemy: Forum Blue and Gold
You remember what happened the last time the Lakers were in this building, right? But then, how could you forget? Pau Gasol tips in a Kobe Bryant miss with a few tenths on the clock and Oklahoma City was eliminated from the playoffs. It was a great series and there’s no doubt the Thunder has the Lakers’ respect. So there will be no sneaking up on them.
The Thunder will have Nate Robinson and Nazr Mohammed, but there’s really no expectation from either to play a whole lot. Mohammed may see 10-20 minutes, depending on how ready the coaching staff he is. A game like today is a big reason the Thunder went after a player like Kendrick Perkins, so he’ll certainly be missed.
Los Angeles coming in: The Lakers have won three straight since the All-Star break and last played Friday against the Clippers.
We know what the Lakers do well. They know what the Thunder do well. They want to defend Kevin Durant as much as possible and hopefully contain Russell Westbrook to some degree. Westbrook has always been terrific in these games and even with Kobe Bryant trying to check him last time, Westbrook had a big day.
The Thunder’s still a bit shorthanded inside taking on Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, but Serge Ibaka has played well against the Lakers in the past. Adding Nazr Mohammed will help because that’s six more fouls to throw in there.
James Harden is the key. He needs to step up with some big scoring off the bench and really provide that extra lift. If he plays well, I think the Thunder has as good a shot as the Lakers.
Tip at 1:30 CT. Go New Thunder.