Records: The Los Angeles Lakers (#3) vs The Oklahoma City Thunder (#2)
Time: 9:30 PM Central Daylight Time
Place: The Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Entertainment Sports Programming Network
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), KSPN 710 Los Angeles
Enemy Blog(s): Silver Screen and Roll, With Malice, Forum Blue and Gold
Previous Meetings: Game 1, Game 2 (Thunder Lead Series 2-0)
Some of you might be confused by the title, but it sounds just about right to me. For those of you in Oklahoma City, the game will end right around midnight, when a new day begins. For me, sitting here in Europe, the game will end right around when the sun will rise. And when that sun rises, since there's mountains in the way, it will ignore the purple twilight and go straight to the beautiful Oklahoma coloured sky. At least, I think so. I don't really watch the sunrise. BUT IT WILL BE BLUE TODAY!
Yesterday's game was a long, slug it out battle. The entire second quarter and most of the fourth quarter were nigh impossible to watch with all of the turnovers, fouls, missed Kobe turnarounds, and missed open shots by the Thunder. At times, I forgot they were playing basketball and thought they were doing half-court sets in practice, with the coach whistling to stop the play whenever he saw something wrong.
Nonetheless, this game should be a lot more watchable. The Lakers switched it up in Game 2 by putting Kobe back in the Thunder's SG (AKA Harden or Sefolosha) and leaving Sessions or Blake to guard Westbrook or Fisher. The strategy seemed to work, with Westbrook being really inefficient offensively, and Harden mostly relying on getting to the line. I doubt Mike Brown changes this part of his offensive strategy.
Though I'll sound like Captain Obvious here, the Lakers' success will largely rely on Kobe. Gasol is smart enough to play an efficient game regardless of his opponent, and Bynum hasn't really been hampered too much by Kendrick Perkins. I know World Peace is a factor too, but the Lakers can live without him. Kobe was downright atrocious last night, allowing himself to be draped all over on every shot he took. He was never aggressive in taking it to the rim, and he never worked off-ball. If he continues to play like this and consistently miss shots, the Lakers will be in a really tough situation.
On the Thunder's side, I would say it was just a bad shooting night. They had some trouble driving the lane, but if they can find more creative ways to draw pressure without letting it collapse on them, things should be alright. Oh, and let Ibaka shoot his shots. They'll go down tonight.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 105, Los Angeles Lakers 93