|2013-2014 NBA Season|
|March 13th, 2014|
|Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma|
|8:30 PM Central Standard Time|
|TV: Turner Network Television|
|Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM/640 AM), 710 ESPN Los Angeles|
|Injury Report: Kendrick Perkins (Out), Thabo Sefolosha (Out), Kobe Bryant (Out), Steve Nash (Out), Nick Young (Out), Jordan Hill (Out)|
|Previous Matchups: Dec 13, Feb 14, Mar 9 (Thunder Lead Season Series 2-1)|
|Kendall Marshall||PG||Russell Westbrook|
|Jodie Meeks||SG||Perry Jones III|
|Wesley Johnson||SF||Kevin Durant|
|Ryan Kelly||PF||Serge Ibaka|
|Pau Gasol||C||Steven Adams|
|2013/14 Advanced Stats|
|100.5 (2nd)||Pace||98.1 (9th)|
|101.5 (22nd)||ORtg||107.9 (6th)|
|106.9 (26th)||DRtg||100.4 (4th)|
So, we all know what the deal with the Lakers is, and we just saw them play two days ago. I don't want to hear about them, nor do I want to talk about them. Somehow this low-level team continues to pop up in the news solely based on their past glory and media market size, and it starts to grate on you after a while. The drama surrounding this Lakers season is already over. Kobe's shut it down for next season, Nash is on the brink of retirement, D' Antoni only remains because of the money tied up in him, and Pau Gasol is playing for a new contract next season. The rest of the team is nothing but journeymen and youngsters, all trying to make their best impression.
For all intents and purposes, the Lakers, as we've come to know them, are finished. Kobe may still be there, but it's no longer his team, and the Lakers are just an appealing money pit for the league's free agents. Whether that will develop into a winning culture will take time, and I suspect what happens tonight will have little to no bearing on their future.
The Thunder, on the other hand, are a top-flight team grinding out the last games of the season through injuries. Every game counts, and their loss to the Lakers on Tuesday was nothing short of devastating. Tonight, the Thunder will be looking for nothing but revenge. They'll want to make the Lakers pay as hard as possible for how they embarrassed OKC, and the effort is going to be sky high.
Usually, this increased effort results in one of two things....
1. A dominant blowout. Obviously, this is preferable.
2. A frustrating game where the Thunder play to the level of their opponents.
Obviously I'm generalizing, but I hope you get where I'm coming from. The Thunder are talented and motivated enough to beat a team like this most of the time. But the game can become close if they start having mental lapses. Like taking too many quick shots and failing to attack the rim in the second and third quarter of the last game, giving the Lakers the confidence they needed to mount a serious comeback.
Anyway, now that the Lakers are coming into this game with a bit of confidence, they do have a chance of winning. They're going to attempt to run the floor and drive us bananas as per usual, getting off quick threes, setting quick pick and roll screens, and ruthlessly attacking the rim. Whether it works depends on Brooks' willingness to go small when it counts, as we saw Tuesday night against the Rockets. If he leaves a big out there to dry against a three point shooter, the Lakers could go on a killer run really fast.
Also, KD has no excuse for not scoring 40 tonight. There's nobody on the Lakers that can deal with him. Nobody.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 120, Los Angeles Lakers 101.
What do you think of tonight's game? Let us know in the comments!