Lakers (30-30, 10-19 road) vs. Thunder (43-16, 26-4 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 112.8 (1st), Lakers– 107.7 (8th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.9 (8th), Lakers – 106.4 (16th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.8 (8th), Lakers – 94.8 (3rd)
View from the enemy: Forum Blue and Gold
It’s pretty clear: This game is definitely more important for the Lakers than it is the Thunder. Not to say it’s meaningless for OKC, but the Lakers aren’t going to be able to survive many more losses. They’re basically in the playoffs already, forced to compete with their lives on the line. The Thunder, they just don’t want to lose at home, don’t want to drop a game in the loss column to the Spurs and don’t want to blow any positive momentum.
There’s going to be a lot of attention on this game because a) it’s on TNT; b) because Serge Ibaka is playing and c) because it’s a huge one for the Lakers and a chance for them to really declare they’ve righted the ship. The Thunder on the other hand can make a firm statement of who is in charge here, and quite frankly, they should. It’s at home, a place the Thunder have won 18 straight against Western opponents.
Lakers coming in: The Lakers topped the Hawks on Sunday and have won seven of 10.
Three Big Things
1. Kobe. He chewed OKC up as a distributor in the last meeting, but has reverted mostly back to his scoring ways. He’s been excellent though as of late scoring the ball and he’s still capable of completely carrying LA offensively.
2. Transition and bench work. The Thunder often play much looser and freer at home, getting out on the break and running less athletic teams out of the building. Doing that to the Lakers would be wise. Get the crowd energized, make the Lakers feel that energy and it could be quick work. On that same front, OKC’s bench plays considerably better at home and in the last meeting with LA, got worked over. Granted that was with Pau Gasol coming off it, but the Thunder need production from Kevin Martin tonight.
3. Russ. The Lakers just don’t have an answer for him. Kobe will likely guard him, which means he’ll have to spend a huge chunk of the game working his tail off defensively. OKC’s got to exploit that matchup as much as possible.
Tip at 8:30 CT. Go Serge Ibaka.