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Western Conference Quarter-Finals Game 5 Preview: Oklahoma City at Los Angeles Lakers

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This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.

Records: The Oklahoma City Thunder (50-32) vs. The Los Angeles Lakers (57-25)

Time: 9:30 PM Central Daylight Time

Place: The Ford Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

TV: Turner Network Television (TNT), KCAL-TV 9, Fox Sports Oklahoma

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1)

Enemy Blog(s): Silver Screen and Roll, With Malice, Forum Blue and Gold

Previous Meeting(s): Game 1, Game 2, Game 3, Game 4

For a full series preview, click here.

It's game 5, and we're on an even keel with the Lakers.

Can you believe it? After two absolutely insane home games, the Thunder are playing in Los Angeles for a series lead. Most of the local sports guys say that this game is a must win, because there's no way that the Thunder can win a Game 7 in Los Angeles. Personally, I think both games are equally hard to win, but a Game 5 victory wouldn't be such a bad thing.

But while most people think the pressure is on the Thunder here, the pressure is really on the Lakers. The Thunder have done what they're supposed to do, and while winning in Los Angeles would be a nice surprise, if the Lakers lose here, it would be a devastating loss. Not to mention the fact that their fans are undoubtedly more so annoyed than fired up at the prospect of a potential 7 game series.

As always, the Thunder are going to need production from their role players, notably from James Harden. Harden was a huge part of both victories in Oklahoma City, scoring 15 and 18 points in each respective contest. But in Los Angeles, he was a now show in both games, averaging a big fat 0 points. It's always hard to find a single X-Factor for winning or losing against a certain team, but so far, James Harden certainly seems to be it. And in the most recent game, Eric Maynor really helped put the team over the top scoring-wise, so hopefully he'll come to play in Los Angeles as well.

But with the game resting essentially in the hands of rookies, I don't hold high expectations for what will happen tonight. The Lakers are going to be in full gear, and they've gotten themselves out of tight situations before. So while I don't think it's impossible for the Thunder to move the mountain tonight, the analyst in me doesn't think it's going to happen.

Nevertheless, let's steal one tonight! Go Thunder!!!!

Prediction: Los Angeles Lakers 105, Oklahoma City Thunder 95