Tag Archives: Nick Young

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers preview (Game 27 of 82)

westbrook thunder bryant lakers

  • When: Friday, 19 December 2014 at 9:30 PM CST
  • Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

That’s the thing about streaks; eventually, they come to an end. It felt good for the Oklahoma City Thunder to finally run off a couple wins. Seven straight wins put the train back on the tracks. The Thunder suffered a tough break with Kevin Durant’s sprained ankle before the half, as he was probably having the best first half of his career. Thirty points in 18 minutes of play was quite memorable. The Thunder hung around, but the Golden State Warriors proved to be too much for them in the end. The only solace is that the end of one streak usually signifies the beginning of another. The question is whether it will be a winning streak or a losing streak.

This will be the first of three meetings between the Thunder and Lakers. The Thunder won the season series 3-1 last season, winning two of those games by at least 25 points.

The Opponent

young bryant lin lakers

These are definitely not your father’s Lakers. They currently have an 8-17 record, but have won 3 of their last 4 games. Their recent hot streak has coincided with the return of Nick Young. The addition of another scorer/ball handler has taken some of the pressure off of Kobe Bryant and allowed the Lakers’ offense to open up a bit. The issue with the Lakers though, has been their defense. They are allowing the most points per game in the league at 109.5 points, and have the league’s worst defensive rating (113.7). After failing miserably in free agency, the Lakers had to cobble together a roster and this is the result. At point guard, the Lakers used Jeremy Lin to begin the season, but have gone with Ronnie Price lately. Price is the better defensive player, but can’t provide the threat offensively that Lin can give you on some nights. On the wing, Kobe Bryant can still fill it up. Though injuries have sapped some of his athleticism, Bryant still has the intelligence and moxie to do what he needs to do on the court. Wesley Johnson gives the Lakers a 3 and D guy that can run the floor in transition. A lot like the point guard position, the Lakers started the season with Carlos Boozer at the 4, but have since gone with the more athletic (and younger) Ed Davis. This appears to be a offense to defense move in that Davis is better on the boards and defensively. Up front, Jordan Hill is a near double double threat on most nights. Off the bench, the aforementioned Young will start the game off the bench, but usually finishes the game out with Bryant. The demotion of Boozer and Lin actually bolster the bench and gives the Lakers more options in their closing line-ups.

Probable Starting Line-up

Los Angeles Lakers

  • PG – Ronnie Price
  • SG – Kobe Bryant
  • SF – Wesley Johnson
  • PF – Ed Davis
  • C – Jordan Hill

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • PG – Russell Westbrook
  • SG – Andre Roberson
  • SF – Perry Jones
  • PF – Serge Ibaka
  • C – Steven Adams

* – Kevin Durant will miss this game with an ankle sprain and is day to day

3 Keys to the Game

1. Run, Russell, Run – This team allows the most points in the NBA. Opposing guards usually get past the first line of defense and into the paint quite easily against the Lakers, which puts the rest of the defense at a disadvantage. Russell Westbrook is one of the best guards at breaking down the defense at the point of attack, and should have his pick of the litter in this game. Also, the older nature of the Lakers makes them susceptible in transition. And Westbrook is a one-man fast break on his own. Also, I think we see good Reggie Jackson in this game.

roberson thunder bryant lakers

2. Roberson – It’s been a joy seeing this young guy blossom into one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. Now he gets to defend the “badge of honor” of perimeter players. Even in his old age, defenders still look forward to locking down Kobe to see where they stand. Hell, Roberson may need to slide over onto Young if he starts to get hot from the perimeter.

3. Start a new win streak – The rest of this season will be about winning blocks of games. It will be about looking at the rest of the schedule in 5-8 game increments and needing to win at least 60% of those games. The Thunder need to win the games that they are supposed to win, and this is one of those games.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers preview (Game 55 of 82)

durant young thunder lakers

  • When: Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 9:30 PM CST
  • Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

There was once a time when the Thunder looked up at the Los Angeles Lakers. A time when mostly everyone knew that they would have to go through Kobe Bryant and the Lakers if they wanted to seek NBA supremacy. That time, seems but a distant memory now. What once was a match-up you circled on the calendar is now just another game.

This is the 2nd of four meetings between these two clubs. The Thunder have dominated the series in the past 3 seasons, going 10-3 in the last 13 games between these two teams, to include the playoffs. It’s a clear case of one team’s window opening at the same time of another team’s window closing.

The Opposition

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Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. That’s all you have to say about the Lakers’ season. It started with Kobe Bryant rehabbing from a torn Achilles at the beginning of the season. It has since trickled down to 6 players being on the injured list (to include Bryant, again), and led to one of the rarer moments in sports, when an NBA team only had 4 players available after their 5th active player fouled out and 2 other players got injured. The Lakers are currently 18-34 and are probably reaching the point where they start to become sellers in the market. Their injury list includes 3 future Hall of Famers (Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash) and 3 good perimeter players (Nick Young, Jordan Farmar, and Jodie Meeks). The survivors include Steve Blake and Chris Kaman, probably the only players on the team capable of generating any offense on their own. Kendall Marshall has shown to be a capable game manager, but still lacks as far as offensive production. Up front, Jordan Hill has shown flashes, but is still a bit too inconsistent. The bench…LOL, what bench?.

Probable Starting Line-ups

Los Angeles Lakers

  • PG – Kendall Marshall
  • SG – Steve Blake
  • SF – Wesley Johnson
  • PF – Shawne Williams
  • C – Chris Kaman

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • PG – Reggie Jackson
  • SG – Thabo Sefolosha
  • SF – Kevin Durant
  • PF – Serge Ibaka
  • C – Kendrick Perkins

3 Keys to the Game

1. Trap Game Potential – An emotional win in Portland and the All Star break coming up. This game has all the markings of a trap game. Even though Los Angeles is currently a wounded animal, they still have players that can score if given the chance.

2. Durant and Thabeet – I’m hoping Durant gives one more virtuoso performance before the All Star break. And I hope that performance includes him sitting much of the 4th quarter. And I hope Hasheem Thabeet get double digit minutes.

thabeet kelly thunder lakers

3. Great 1st half – This turned out to be a great first half of basketball for the Thunder. Hopefully everyone rests up and prepares for the second half of the season.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Preview (Game 32 of 82)

76ers thunder

  • When: Friday, 04 January 2013 at 7:00 PM CST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

Regardless of what you think of Nike’s “KD is not nice” campaign, imagine the fear in the Philadelphia 76ers’ locker room when A) they have to face the Thunder after a loss and B) they have to face Kevin Durant after the first ejection of his career. The Thunder come into the game having lost to the Brooklyn Nets in one of the more frustrating games of the season. After being down by 20+ in the first half, the Thunder battled back to tie the game in the 4th, only to completely squander the game through bad defense and questionable officiating.

The Thunder come into the game 24-7, tied for 1st in the Western Conference. They lead the season series 1-0, after beating the Sixers in Philadelphia in overtime 116-109.  Durant scored 37 and Russell Westbrook had 30 points in a game that the Thunder could never put the Sixers away. Every time the Thunder got a sizeable lead, Philly went on a run. The difference came in overtime in the form of four consecutive 3-pointers from 4 different Thunder players.

The Opponent

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers come into the game with a 15-18 record, clinging on to the 8th spot in the East over Boston by percentage points. The Sixers are 3-9 in their last 12 games and have been plagued by lack of consistency on the offensive end, as evidenced by their 93.3 points per game average (good for 26th in the league). They are led by 4th year point guard Jrue Holiday who is blossoming this season, averaging 18.8 points, 9 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game. He is joined in the backcourt by veteran Jason Richardson and 3rd year wingman Evan Turner, who is also starting to come into his own after struggling his first two seasons in the league. The front court is undersized, manned by versatile PF Thaddeus Young and Lavoy Allen. Their bench can be explosive led by Nick Young and Dorell Wright and center Spencer Hawes. Each of the bench players is capable of catching fire from 3-point land and putting up big numbers.

Probable Starters

Philadelphia 76ers

PG – Jrue Holiday

SG – Jason Richardson

SF – Evan Turner

PF – Thaddeus Young

C – Lavoy Allen

Oklahoma City Thunder

PG – Russell Westbrook

SG – Thabo Sefolosha

SF – Kevin Durant

PF – Serge Ibaka

C – Kendrick Perkins

3 Keys to Victory

jrue

1) Russell Westbrook vs. another UCLA point guard – Russell Westbrook has had a go of it lately versus his fellow Bruins point guards. He got torched by Darren Collison of the Dallas Mavericks for 32 points and 4 assists a week ago. Utah Jazz reserve guard Earl Watson had one of his higher assist games against the Thunder with 8 assists. The good news is that Westbrook held Holiday to 6 points on 3-11 shooting the last time they played.

Another note – Russell Westbrook shot over 50% in his last game. He has not shot over 50% in consecutive games this season. I think he’s due.

2) Serge Ibaka vs. Thaddeus Young – Young is one of those versatile, undersized power forwards that give Ibaka fits. He does most of his work in the midrange area, thus negating Ibaka’s biggest strength as a defender. This was on full display the last time the Sixers played the Thunder, as Young had 29 points and 15 rebounds. All the while, Ibaka had 0 blocks and 9 boards.

Ibaka9

3) Rebound advantage – The Thunder should take full advantage of the Sixers being undersized in the post. Young and Allen don’t go over 6’9, and while Hawes is a legit 7 footer, he spends a lot of his time on the perimeter, thus negating his offensive rebounding potential. Durant should take full advantage of this opportunity and drop down to the post to help out on the boards.