I love this series. Not only because the two best scorers in the game are featured, but because two seasons ago when the Thunder dynasty was new to the elite group of teams it was the Lakers who crushed their dreams. It’s awesome to see that this season the Thunder will get revenge at the Lakers. Also, because I’m hoping Ron… I mean Metta World Peace has another elbow spasm and starts more controversy. I also love when he contradicts his new name. Anyway, back to the series.
I think the main reason why the Lakers won’t win this series is because the Thunder are the only team in the league with enough premier post defenders to stop them from scoring inside. For the Lakers, their interior scoring is their biggest strength. The Thunder have Perkins, Collison, Mohammed, and Ibaka who are all defensive minded players who can limit Pau and Bynum. Pau was held to 10 points and Bynum was held to 20 in game 1. Game 1 was a blow out and a few things contributed to that. Kobe couldn’t get into a rythm. The Thunder had too many ways to stop him defensively, and they did. He shot a poor 38% from the field and was limited to 20 points. Sefolosha, Harden, and even Durant all took turns frustrating Kobe. Additionally, Ramon Sessions couldn’t put the ball in the hoop. He shot 1-7 from the field for 2 points. That attributes to the Thunder defense, and Russell Westbrook’s job on him. When Kobe is limited, Pau is being held to 10 points and Sessions is being held to 2, the Lakers will never win a game. That’s simply because the supporting cast behind them are pretty terrible. The bench scored 26 of the Lakers’ 90 points. Their depth will definitely be exposed in this series, considering the Thunder are such a deep team. They did a good job on the glass, but had no answer for Westbrook and Durant. If both of them continue to score 25+ for the rest of the series then this will be easy.
In game 2, the Lakers were close but couldn’t hold onto the lead for a full 48 minutes. That is credited to poor late game execution, which isn’t characteristic of the Lakers. They got a good last shot, but gave up a 9 point run to the Thunder in the final 2 minutes. To be quite honest, they only held the lead because the Thunder weren’t knocking down shots. It wasn’t because they were playing stellar basketball. Ramon Sessions was once again held to 2 points. He only took 3 shots though, so either he has to be more assertive or they just have to stop watching Kobe shoot the ball, which he isn’t doing efficiently by the way. He shot a poor 36% from 9-25 from the field. That was again credited to the strong perimeter defense of the Thunder. Once again the Laker bench was atrocious, scoring only 11 of the Lakers 75 points. They definitely need to step up, the Thunder have very good match-ups defensively against the Lakers starting unit so they desperately need some spark. Once again though, they did a great job on the glass out-rebounding the Thunder by 5. For the Thunder they have to be more aggressive. In game 1 and 2 they took way too many jump shots and that’s ok when you’re making them like in game 1. However, in game 2 when Harden is 3-8 and Westbrook is 5-17 they need scoring from inside. I’d look for them to be more aggressive down low, because they almost lost this game due to settling for jumpers.
For the future, I think the Thunder have to be more aggressive with the basketball. Maybe try to get more driving opportunities and get the Laker big men in trouble. For the Lakers, they need to take another look at their offensive strategy. Kobe is struggling this series shooting a combined 37% from the field. Sessions is struggling and the bench just can’t play basketball at this point. They should try utilize Bynum more in games 3 and 4, although the Thunder have interior defenders he has a size mismatch on everybody. They should play more of an inside out game through the rest of the series, that way they can get Bynum hot early and free up space for Sessions and Kobe.
I’m going to have to take the Thunder in this series in 5 games.