OKC Thunder (34-10, 15-7 road) at Los Angeles Lakers (18-25, 13-10 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 112.6 (1st), Lakers– 108.0 (7th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.3 (8th), Lakers – 106.8 (21st)
Pace: Thunder – 92.9 (8th), Lakers – 94.3 (3rd)
View from the enemy: Forum Blue and Gold
I think I speak for all when I saw that I’m really enjoying the Lakers current struggles and misery. But you know what terrifies me? Not necessarily that they’re going to figure things out and win 15 straight, because I think that ship has sailed. It’s that they’re going to win a couple games and grab everyone’s attention and fire up stories like, “Have the Lakers turned the corner?” And it obviously starts by beating a team like the Thunder on national TV.
If you think you’ve heard this story before, it’s because I said almost the exact same thing the first two games against LA. And both times, the Thunder put the Lakers back in their place. It’s very obvious the Thunder are superior to the Lakers in every way, but they do have four likely Hall of Famers and are still a threat to start playing dangerous basketball. And you know — you know — if they beat the Thunder today, it’s going to cause a minor freakout. I’d very much prefer that not happen.
Lakers coming in: The Lakers last played Friday, beating the Jazz.
Three Big Things
1. Bench work. OKC’s second unit had been improving and make real impact on the game. Kevin Martin is playing much better on the road and the production of the bench has been somewhat consistent. The Lakers have a terrible bench, even with Pau Gasoline coming off it. Last time though, that terrible Laker bench ripped up OKC’s. Can’t have that.
2. Russ. He always torches the Lakers. KD is kind of a given, but Westbrook is the player that the Lakers have absolutely no answer for. Steve Nash can’t guard him and Kobe Bryant can’t guard him.
3. Quick start. It’s not necessarily the most important thing, because OKC’s talent can wear most teams down. But the Lakers and the Staples Center are approaching this game as an opportunity to establish something. A strong first quarter that reiterates the Thunder’s superiority could suck the life out of the crowd, and the Lakers.
Tip at 2:30 CT. Go Afternoon Thunder.