The Lakers and Thunder playoff series it turning out to be better than most thought it would. With game five fast approaching, time is beginning to run out on both teams.
So what is it going to take for either team to win the opening series? Here are a few things to ponder while trying to answer this question.
The Lakers showed in games one and two that they planned on winning the rebounding contest. With the power of seven footers Bynum and Gasol in the post, it looked to be going in the favor of the Lakers. With good inside play, mostly rebounds, the Lakers took games one and two at home.
Games three and four turned out to be the the Thunder best rebounding so far. The defensive rebounds they had turned into points, most of them coming on fast breaks. In games three and four, the Lakers got away from getting the ball inside, instead settling for outside shots which helped the Thunder get rebounds.
The Thunder need good minutes from the bench if they plan on moving on. Rookie James Harden needs to come out and shoot the ball like he did in games three and four. Blocks have become a big part of the Thunder defense, so Serge Ibaka needs to come off the bench and get some big blocks at key times. Russell Westbrook will need someone to come on in his place and keep doing what he started. Eric Maynor will have to do just that.
The Lakers need their bench to heat up and start making shots. Jordan Farmar is one of those guys who can crush opponents momentum with the three point shot. L.A. cannot rely only on Derek Fisher for threes. Lamar Odom showed flashes of his old self in game four. It would be good for the Lakers to get him going, not only on the dribble drive, but behind the arch as well. Get Luke Walton in on all of this, and there are not many teams that can prevail.
Kobe Bryant is the best basketball player in the world. But the Lakers need their superstar to score. In game three, Kobe had an average scoring night, but the thunder won by five at home. But in game four, Kobe scored well below average at 12 points, and the Thunder routed L.A. 110-89. The math is there.
Kevin Durant is turning into one of the best to ever play the game. After all, he is the league's youngest scoring champion at just over 30 per game. If Durant is to get to the level that Kobe sat on for the longest time, he will need to show off his skills in the playoffs. Beating the defending champs out of the playoffs would help lobby his cause.
This seemed like an uneven match up at first. But as it has progressed, we see that the Thunder have a lot going in Oklahoma City. Most thought the series would be over in five games, with OKC winning one home game. Well, that was wrong. The series is tied 2-2 with game five in L.A. But the series is still young and the defending champs are smelling another trophy. This will be one of the best of the first round. Maybe even game seven Worthy.