Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder preview (Game 65 of 82)

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers

  • When: Thursday, 13 March 2014 at 8:30 PM CST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

Never, in recent memory, has this team been what I like to call “consistently inconsistent”. But that’s what the Thunder have been in the past 9 games. The results of their last 9 games have gone as followed: Lose 3, Win 3, Lose 2, Win 1. The win against the Houston Rockets in their last game may have quieted some of the rumblings concerning team unity, but consistent play may be the only way completely silence those concerns.

This will be the 4th and final meeting of the season between these two teams. The Thunder lead the season series 2-1. The season series has been a clash of styles, especially for the Lakers. In the first game, the Lakers were still getting acclimated to life with Kobe Bryant and lost 122-97. The second and third games of the series have been a different story. Both games have been decided by 4 points, with the Thunder winning one and the Lakers winning the latest one.

The Opponent

gasol meeks marshall lakers

With the news that Kobe Bryant will officially be out for the season, the Lakers can fully immerse themselves in the D’Antoni ball experience. Even though he only played 6 games for them, the Lakers were a different team with Bryant. The offensive pace slowed and the ball stuck in Bryant’s hands more. With him out, the Lakers are highly dependent on transition opportunities and 3-point shooting. That lends itself to a frenetic, fast paced style of basketball that leans on points and not defense. The wing heavy line-up of Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Farmar, and Kent Bazemore spreads the floor out with their 3-point shooting. Kendall Marshall does a good job of setting up his teammates, while Pau Gasol does his thing from the post. The bench is inconsistent, but can be effective at times due to the Lakers’ style of play.

Probable Starting Line-ups

Los Angeles Lakers

  • PG – Kendall Marshall
  • SG – Jodie Meeks
  • SF – Wesley Johnson
  • PF – Ryan Kelly
  • C – Pau Gasol

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • PG – Russell Westbrook
  • SG – Perry Jones III
  • SF – Kevin Durant
  • PF – Serge Ibaka
  • C – Steven Adams

3 Keys to the Game

1. Perimeter defense – The Thunder focus a lot of their defense on the interior and hope that their length disrupts opposing shooters into missing shots. And that works most of the time, especially when legs begin to tire in the 4th quarter. But if a team catches fire, similar to what the Lakers did in the 2nd half of their previous meeting with the Thunder, then the Thunder can find themselves in a hole, quickly.

2. Andre Roberson – While I like Perry Jones in the starting line-up against most teams, the Lakers don’t have a traditional line-up. Putting Jones on a player like Meeks does not make use of Jones’ strengths. A player like Roberson is more apt to better defend a shorter, quicker player like Meeks on the perimeter.

roberson ibaka gasol thunder lakers

3. Keep your foot on the pedal – The Thunder don’t have a problem building leads. They’ve led by double digits in each of the past 3 games. But their problem is complacency once they build the lead. They get careless on offense and porous on defense. The Thunder did  a much better job of staying focused in the Rockets game. They held the Rockets at bay most of the second half and held on to win the game.

(Bonus) 4. Reggie Williams – This is the final game in his 10-day contract. Can we please get this man some playing time???

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