The Oklahoma City Thunder came into Game 1 against the Lakers after a layoff of over a week.
Many were calling into question whether or not the young Thunder team would be affected by this long layoff, but a 119-90 win over the Lakers proved that they were only helped by the time off.
The Thunder were up by 15 points at halftime, and went on to outscore the Lakers by 15 in the third quarter. The problem for the Lakers was not their offense, but rather their lack of defense.
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden combined for 69 points while Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, and Pau Gasol only combined for 50 points. Gasol only had ten points and had the worst plus/minus of any player at -29.
Thunder-Lakers Series Outlook and Prediction
For the Lakers to compete in this series, Gasol must be more productive. He played for 30 minutes, and his ten points will not cut it against a high-powered offensive team like the Thunder.
The point guards for the Lakers were seemingly nonexistent in Game 1. Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake combined for a total of two points and seven assists in a combined 45 minutes of play. Matching up against Russell Westbrook requires at least some competition in the scoring column. Sessions and Blake will surely perform better throughout the rest of the series, but two points is simply not acceptable.
The Game 1 dismantling of the Lakers may have been a result of them going seven games with Denver, as they finished the series on Saturday. The quick turnaround to the second round is no longer a excuse for Game 2, and the Lakers desperately need a win to avoid falling behind 2-0. The Lakers do not want a repeat of last year, when they lost 4-0 in the second round to the Dallas Mavericks.
The only way for the Lakers to have any chance of taking Game 2, and any game in the series, will be to limit the scoring of Durant and Westbrook. The problem is that when either of them have poor shooting nights, the other one usually finds a way to score in the upper 20s. James Harden is also a consistent scorer, along with the threats of Kendrick Perkins and even Daequan Cook off of the bench.
Kobe Bryant left the post-game press conference after being asked the unnecessary question of whether the Lakers could guard Durant and Westbrook, to which he replied with a sarcastic “No.” The difficulty in shutting down Westbrook and Durant is the man reason why the Thunder are title favorites, and it is why the Lakers will have a tough time making this a long series.
Series Prediction: Thunder in five
Remaining Series Schedule
- Wednesday 5/16: Lakers at Thunder
- Friday 5/18: Thunder at Lakers
- Saturday 5/19: Thunder at Lakers
- *Monday 5/21: Lakers at Thunder
- *Wednesday 5/23: Thunder at Lakers
- *Sunday 5/27: Lakers at Thunder