2010 NBA Playoffs: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Preview

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2010 NBA Playoffs: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Preview
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

With Oklahoma City losing last night to Portland, the Thunder locked up the eighth seed and will meet up with the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs this weekend.

This will easily be the most watched first round series throughout the playoffs.  The biggest reason is that the Lakers are playing.  But also because a lot of NBA fans haven't had the chance to see the Thunder play this season (only three nationally televised games) and will have a chance to see Kevin Durant and company.

The Thunder do have a chance in this matchup.  I was actually praying Oklahoma City wouldn't play the Nuggets with the sixth seed because I had a terrible feeling of getting swept by Denver had Oklahoma City played them in the first round.

The Thunder have competed every game this season with the Lakers and have blown them out once.  However, that was in the regular season.  This is a totally different atmosphere, obviously.

The Lakers are filled with veterans and are resting Kobe in preparation for the postseason.  Plus, they will most likely have Andrew Bynum ready to go by Sunday.

Now, going by the matchups, it's going to be an extremely interesting four to seven games.

Russell Westbrook shouldn't have too much trouble with Derek Fisher.  Fisher has shown throughout the season that he can't keep up with Westbrook's speed.  Although you can never count Fisher out, as he has one of the most clutch shots in the league. 

However, Westbrook has solid perimeter defense and should be able to contain him decently enough.

Kobe Bryant going up against Thabo Sefolosha will be one of the marquee matchups in the series.  The last time these two met, Sefolosha frustrated Bryant to almost double-figure turnovers and an early exit. 

However, Bryant thrives in the playoffs and will most likely find a way to dissect arguably the best guard defender in the league a time or two.

On the flip side, Kevin Durant will also be going up against another one the best defenders in Ron Artest, who gets a lot like Kevin Garnett in the playoffs with his passion. Artest has either done extremely well or played lazily on Durant all season.  I see Durant getting the best of him more times than not.

Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison will be a huge part in the Thunder's success if they want any chance at taking down the Lakers.  They both will be on the court a lot trying to contain Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum down low.

Lamar Odom will be a huge factor for the Lakers and will be a big matchup for just about anyone on the Thunder roster.  Jeff Green has had decent success against Odom in the regular season and will try and capitalize on his recent stellar play on both sides of the court. 

However, I like Thunder's bench over the Lakers' with Serge Ibaka, James Harden, Nick Collison, and Eric Maynor all contributing in a huge way all season.

Jordan Farmar looks like he lost a step athletically, and Shannon Brown hasn't been the same since the All-Star break.

However, the Lakers are still the Lakers and are the No. 1 seed in the West for a reason.  Plus, they have home court advantage over the Thunder.

Los Angeles will probably win this matchup, I am aware of that.  As a Thunder fan, it kills me to say it.  But I honestly think people are sleeping on Oklahoma City.

Don't be surprised if the Thunder take the series to six or seven games.  Actually, don't be surprised if they pull an upset.


Follow Casey on Twitter: @caseywomack

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