NBA: Los Angeles Lakers' Youth Needs to Make Big Impact in Pivotal Game 4

Matt WagnerCorrespondent IIMay 19, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 18:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots over Nazr Mohammed #8 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May at Staples Center on May 18, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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Tonight at 7:30 PM PT on TNT, the Los Angeles Lakers will host the Oklahoma City Thunder in a pivotal Game 4 matchup that could decide the course of the Western Conference Semifinal series. 

Los Angeles won a thrilling Game 3 yesterday 99-96 and staved off an almost certain elimination in the process. As a result, the Lakers have now made this a legitimate series as the Thunder now lead 2-1, rather than the Lakers having to face an insurmountable 3-0 series hole.

The momentum seems to have swung into Los Angeles's favor and they are hosting tonight's game four at the Staples Center.

The only problem? The schedule.

The Lakers have to finish off the second leg of a back-to-back in the biggest game of their season against one of the best teams in the NBA, and possibly the new NBA Finals favorite with the Miami Heat's recent struggles.

Mighty task indeed, my friends. 

The Lakers also the dubious distinction of having one of the oldest teams in the NBA, with their average age being 29 years of age. In addition, Los Angeles is also one of the worst teams in the league when in comes to fast break points—and they have to face one of the most athletic and fast-paced teams in the NBA in the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

Luckily, Los Angeles did upgrade at the trade deadline and last year's NBA Draft with a much-needed and desired youth infusion, acquiring guard Andrew Goudelock via the draft, and trading for former Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Ramon Sessions and Houston Rockets PF/C Jordan Hill while giving aging veterans Derek Fisher and Luke Walton pink slips. 

With the added minutes on the veterans last night, combined with the Thunder's tendency for a fast break offense, the youth on the Lakers' roster needs to produce tonight in order to give Los Angeles a chance to win. 

Starting point guard Ramon Sessions has been inconsistent in the playoffs thus far despite an excellent regular season performance for the purple and gold. Sessions has the talent to break out in spurts when needed and he would be the one I would expect to have one of the biggest performances out of the Los Angeles youth tonight. 

In addition, the frontcourt tandem of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum need to have an impact tonight.

The two have been inconsistent in their playoff careers for the Lakers, although the performances for both of them have seemed to have been approaching its peak recently at the right time. However, those performances need to continue tonight to increase the Lakers' chances tonight. 

Finally, seldom-used Laker rookie Andrew Goudelock, dubbed the "Mini-Mamba" earlier in the season by the Laker faithful could be somewhat of a factor in tonight's game if a late three-pointer is needed or if fatigue affects starter Kobe Bryant.

The Mini-Mamba shot 37 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season, and I would not be surprised if the 2011 College Three-Point Champion has an impact tonight for the aforementioned reasons.

It will be intriguing to see how Lakers head coach Mike Brown handles the situation tonight, although the Lakers youth has to make an impact in order to ease the difficulty of tonight's pivotal Game 4 matchup for the veterans. 


What are your thoughts on tonight's crucial matchup? Comment with your thoughts below!