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Thunder vs Lakers – Can The Upstart Thunder Knock Off The Powerful Lakers?

Posted by Craig Parsons on 4/15/2010 2:36:00 PM
NBA Odds: Lakers in Five

The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers return to the playoffs for what fans in California hope will be another long postseason run, that with strong play and a little luck, could result in a 17th championship parade. First in their way of glory will be the Oklahoma City Thunder, who has qualified for their first sportsbook playoffs in franchise history with a 50-win season. Extending their season past 82 games is an accomplishment in itself for Oklahoma City, and although advancing to the second round will be a tough task, Kevin Durant and the Thunder will not go down without a fight.

Thunder vs Lakers Odds: Magic Lakers in Five

The Story

After capturing the 31st conference title in team history, the Lakers once again turn their attention to basketball’s ultimate glory. It’s scary to think that this team has actually improved from the one that won the NBA championship just one season ago in a five-game series against the Orlando Magic, but that might just be the case. However, injuries have played a big part in holding the Lakers back from reaching their top NBA betting potential, and although an upset is not likely, the upstart Thunder have the potential to push this series deep with a couple of wins. Oklahoma City is a young team with no playoff experience, but rife with offensive superstars which should make this an exciting series at the least.

Kobe Bryant sat out the four of the final five games of the season because of swelling in his right knee, and there are concerns about just how healthy the Lakers’ leading scorer is heading in to the opening round. Bryant has struggled throughout most of the season with injuries, particularly with the broken finger that kept him out several games earlier on in the campaign. Just how healthy Bryant and starting center Andrew Bynum are will play a big part in determining the outcome of this series, which could be a look at the future versus the present.

Thunder vs Bobcats: Better Starters?

The Lakers have a starting lineup rife with All-Star players. Remember, this is the same starting lineup that won the sports betting NBA championship on a dominating run through the playoffs just one season ago, and actually improved with the addition of defensive stalwart small forward Ron Artest. For all that was made of how important a role Artest played in slowing down Kobe Bryant when the Houston Rockets pushed the Lakers to the brink in the opening round of the playoffs, he is now suiting up in the gold. The health of Bynum and Bryant will be the key, although the Thunder’s lack of a dominating presence at the center position may afford the Lakers the luxury of resting Bynum for at least one more series.

The Thunder have perhaps the most outstanding pair of forwards in the association, with scoring title winner Kevin Durant at small forward, and Jeff Green holding down the power forward position. How well point guard Russell Westbrook takes control of the offense will be a sticking point with the team’s offensive success. The biggest problem is that the Thunder’s two strongest positions on offense also happen to be the two spots that the Lakers are strongest defensively on.

Edge: Lakers

Thunder vs Lakers: Better Bench?

The Lakers boast one bench player that would potentially start for the Thunder if he switched teams in forward Lamar Odom. Odom will be an intangible asset for Los Angeles, particularly early on in the playoffs while they deal with injury concerns. Center Nick Collison likely will be relied on heavily off the bench for Oklahoma City, especially with the bruising capability of the Bynum-Gasol Lakers’ tandem. Overall, although Los Angeles will likely rely less on their bench than the Thunder, they still have the better options should they be forced to go to the bench, although a long list of injury concerns may send head coach Phil Jackson to his reserves to fill major minutes if the Lakers can take advantage of the Thunder’s youth and inexperience.

Edge: Lakers

Thunder vs Lakers: X-Factor?

The Lakers struggled to the regular season online betting finishing line, dealing with a variety of injuries to key plays despite still stumbling to the best record in the conference. Although the injuries and inconstant play to end the season cannot be ignored, the fact is that last season this team was dealing with the same sort of issues and not only recovered in time to make it through the opening rounds, but ended up hitting their stride as the playoffs went on and winning a championship. Los Angeles’ will rely heavily on their experience, which should be the X-Factor in this series. Despite talent on both sides, this will be the first playoff series for every starter on the Oklahoma City roster, which is simply not good enough to overcome such a talented Los Angeles team.

Edge: Lakers

Who Gonna Win?

Although the storyline of the up and coming stars of Oklahoma City against the accomplished stars on the Lakers is an intriguing one, the truth is that Los Angeles presents the ultimate match up problems for the Thunder. The position at which this team excels at is small forward, where Kevin Durant has been dominant offensively this season en route to winning his first scoring title, is also the position where Los Angeles’ best defensive player holds position. Ron Artest made life miserable for Bryant when the Rockets and Lakers met in last season’s playoffs, and is sure to challenge the young Durant in a way he has not been challenged for much of the season.

Los Angeles took the first three in the four game series during the regular season, and although the Thunder could steal a game or maybe two, the Lakers will advance with a first round win.

Pick: Lakers in Five



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