Final Four: 4 Reasons the L.A. Lakers Will Defeat the OKC Thunder
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The sky is falling all over Tinseltown. Panic reigns in the streets down Rodeo Drive, and the excuses are in full swing...
The Thunder are just too good, too fast, too young. The Lakers are too old, too slow, etc., etc., etc....
Somewhere in reality-show ville, Lamar Odom is smiling at the Lakers being a bigger mess than his in-laws.
Fans need to take a chill pill and relax. What happened last night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City was nothing more than a young team landing the first blow in what will be a long fight in the Western Conference Semifinals.
All of the reports on blogs, websites and talk shows are nothing more than reactionary panic about the Thunder suddenly turning into the '96 Chicago Bulls after defeating LA 119-90. Although we are a reactionary society, it is too much too soon to think that the Lakers are finished.
In fact, if you really take time to break down Game 1, I believe they will still win this series, and here's why...
1) Lakers' depth will be too much for the Thunder.
For starters, everyone will look to the Thunder and state that they are only a three-man offense of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, who combined for 69 of the 119 points. That is all they have in terms of offensive threats.
The Lakers had to deal with a more deeper team in the Nuggets the last round and won out because their role players (Steve Blake, Jordan Hill, Matt Barnes) stepped up.
Can you really say that Grandpa Fisher and Nick Collison will do the same thing when the series goes to the Staples Center?
Are fans overreacting to last night's game?
Besides, the Lakers' starting five alone will get more comfortable offensively and will match the Thunder's (not so) Big Three point-for-point, and the LA bench will take it from there.
2) What is OKC's Plan B?
The Thunder shot 53 percent because they were able to get dribble penetration (thank you Kenny Smith) into the paint. Let's see what happens when the Lakers cut off those moves to the basket.
What will the Thunder do when those shots don't fall? Shoot some more? Yeah Russell Westbrook will love to do that, only to see Durant forecheck him into the cheap seats when he goes 1 or 13 in the fourth quarter.
Face it, jump shooting teams don't win titles, and OKC will eventually have one of those 39 percent nights, and we'll see how Thunder fans will ask "When do the Sooners' start football again?"
3) Lakers will be able to adjust, OKC won't.
Last night Andrew Bynum was able to set up shop in the paint like Moses at Mount Sinai. He scored 20 and had 14 boards. Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins won't be able to put up 20 and 14 combined.
Pau Gasol struggled, but as we've all seen, once he and his hair get in line they will be able to get enough production to force OKC to eventually double up on either Bynum or Gasol—which just opens up the door for Kobe to do work.
4) OKC is not physical enough to beat LA...yet.
Face it, Laker fans, the end is near, just not this year. Last year LA faced a more balanced Dallas team who shell-shocked the Lakers. The Thunder have had a great run, but they don't have enough balance to match the Lakers.
Also, as great as Durant may be this series will get more physical, and until the Thunder are able to match the intensity of Metta World Peace or Kobe, they won't be able to punish the Lakers, nor beat them.
The playoffs always go to the smart, experienced teams, and you have to ask yourself this question: At the end of the game, who is the smarter player, Westbrook, Durant or Kobe?
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