The Oklahoma City Thunder (53-26) and the Los Angeles Lakers (55-24) have already locked up their respective divisions, but they are certainly going to be in for a fight on Sunday night in Tinseltown to help sort out where they will sit in the upcoming postseason.
The time is now for the Thunder to make their move. They had a shot at taking out the eventual champs last year in the playoffs, and though they pushed the Lakers to six games, they weren’t able to close them out. However, thanks to three straight wins, Oklahoma City is just one game back of the Dallas Mavericks and two back of the Lakers in the chase for the No. 2, 3, and 4 seeds in the Western Conference. Obviously, when we talk about this team, we have to talk about Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, two of the best pure scorers that the NBA has to offer. Durant’s numbers are down just a tad this year, but it’s hard to nitpick at a guy who is averaging 27.8 points per game on the season. Westbrook is good for 21.7 points per game, and he is definitely having the year of his career. There is still really the need for a third big time scorer to step up now that Jeff Green has departed, but both James Harden (12.1 PPG) and Serge Ibaka (9.8 PPG) are really starting to step up their games.
We’re usually not ones to question the almighty Phil Jackson, but there is a point that we know that the Lakers have to wake up and start playing like the defending champs, or they are going to be in a heck of a lot of trouble in the playoffs. Obviously, you want to be the No. 2 seed in the dance out West, first off to maintain home court advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs, and secondly to avoid the Denver Nuggets in the first round. LA has dropped four games in a row, all of which have come as favorites, and none of which, save for the last second loss to the Utah Jazz, have been all that close. With a game against the San Antonio Spurs still lurking on the schedule on Tuesday, there is no doubt that the Lakers are going to have to wake up and smell the coffee here in the near future, or they are going to be the team left out in the cold with a tough, tough road to get back into NBA Finals once again.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers Pick: We really love the Lakers in this one, though. We know that this is a team that is really preaching that it isn’t talking about “flipping a switch,” but the time is here to really flip that proverbial switch. This is a short number for a team that has been struggling to cover, and we’ll take advantage of the soft line and back the Lakers -5.5.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.