Los Angeles Lakers (9-10, 2-5 road) vs. OKC Thunder (15-4, 9-2 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 113.3 (2nd), Lakers– 107.2 (9th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.9 (9th), Lakers – 102.8 (8th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.3 (15th), Lakers – 94.3 (3rd)
View from the enemy: Forum Blue and Gold
It’s pretty obvious how this is going to play out. We’ve all watched sports long enough to know. The Thunder are rolling, looking as powerful as ever. The Lakers are the disappointment of basketball and have everyone digging their grave.
So naturally, they’re going to beat the Thunder in OKC and have everyone proclaiming they’re back. That’s just the way it works. Sports, y’know?
Then again, superior teams bet inferior teams more often than they lose, so the odds certainly favor Oklahoma City. No other way to shake it: The Thunder are far better than the Lakers right now. At the end of the season? Maybe it’s a different story. But currently, with Steve Nash out until who knows when, Dwight Howard looking unlike himself and the team playing soft defense overall, the Thunder aren’t just better, they’re considerably better. If you had me picking a seven-game series right now, I’d have OKC sweeping.
But that’s the point I’m trying to make. Just when you think it’s all one way, things often tend to go the other. We all know the Thunder have a considerable advantage coming into tonight’s game. But the Lakers clearly see this as a potential statement type of game, something to put their season on the right track. They don’t necessarily want it more than the Thunder, but they probably do have a bit more motivation.
The Lakers coming in: They last played Tuesday, handling the Hornets in New Orleans.
Fun quote from KD on Scott Brooks: “He’s not afraid to speak his mind. If I mess up, he’s quick to tell me. He’s got a quick trigger on me. He came in today in front of everybody, looked at me for 10 seconds and said, ‘KD you need a haircut.’”
Three Big Things
1. Perk. This is where Kendrick Perkins is supposed to earn his paycheck. He has a reputation for being a Dwight Stopper and here’s his first chance to prove it. Well, not first chance as Perk defended Howard terrifically last season, but first chance to prove it as Western Conference foes. Here’s what intrigues me the most though: Can Scott Brooks get away with his smallball lineup tonight? In that, can Serge Ibaka play any kind of effective minutes defending Howard? If he can, the Lakers have no prayer against the Thunder.
2. No Pau. Pau Gasol is out tonight meaning Antawn Jamison will get the start at power forward for the Lakers. Which means Serge Ibaka will have a capable stretch 4 to defend. Jamison is a solid 3-point shooter and will likely be looking to spot up and exploit Ibaka’s tendency to protect the pain over the perimeter.
3. KD’s war on World Peace. In the past, Metta World Peace was known as a guy that could defend Kevin Durant. Now? Not so much at all. Durant has had his way scoring against World Peace and all that physical frustration stuff he used to pull on KD doesn’t seem to work. Russell Westbrook has tortured the Lakers in the past, but Durant is probably the biggest mismatch on the floor.
Tip at 8:30 CT. Go Thundering Thunder.