Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Lakers may have won the most recent matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but that doesn't mean they don't represent one of the teams OKC would most like to play in the postseason.
The biggest positive for the Thunder here is that Russell Westbrook gets to take on Steve Nash, who will have a tough time defending the explosive Westbrook, especially considering Nash's advanced age (turning 39 on Feb. 7).
In fact, one could argue that Westbrook could be a more important factor in this game than star teammate Kevin Durant.
In the three games of this matchup so far this season, Westbrook scored 27-plus points in both of OKC's wins, while only managing 17 points on 6-of-22 shooting in the recent loss.
Durant has been steadily great in all three matchups, dropping at least 35 points in every contest.
Obviously, Durant has been spectacular, but it would seem that the team needs Westbrook to perform well to beat the Lakers.
The other big positive for OKC is that Thabo Sefolosha has proven to be one of the better "Kobe-stoppers" in the league (via Darnell Mayberry of NewsOK).
Kobe has seemingly changed up his game (via Huffington Post) slightly in recent weeks, but you have to like the Thunder's chances with Sefolosha pestering Bryant into bad shots.
The one reason to be a little wary of this possible series is the Lakers' big men, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard.
The Thunder has some quality size of its own. However, if either Gasol or Howard get hot in the series, they have a chance of turning this into a winnable matchup for the Lakers.
Because of that, this matchup is lower down on the list of "best-case" matchups.