Lakers vs Thunder

Game Preview: Lakers vs Thunder

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Los Angeles Lakers (51-15)  |  Oklahoma City Thunder (41-25)

 

Coming off an impressive victory over the Utah Jazz, the Lakers are now set to face off against the young and rising Oklahoma City Thunder.

 

The Lakers defeated the Jazz on Monday, 116-108, and with the victory, clinched the top seed in the Western Conference. This is the first time they have had the top seed in the playoffs since the 2009-10 season, which ended with the late great Kobe Bryant winning his fifth and final championship.

 

Lakers vs Thunder
Photo Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu

Although it is still a great accomplishment to have the top seed in the playoffs, this season will be different as far as Los Angeles not receiving the full benefits. There will be no home-court advantage for the Lakers to have in this year’s 2020 bubble playoffs.

However, Lakers fans should still feel proud that their beloved team is once again the top dog in the West, after failing to reach the postseason for the last seven consecutive years. Kyle Kuzma tweeted after the Lakers‘ victory, “Real Laker fans remember the losing seasons. Here ya go #1.” As a die-hard Lakers fan since birth, I do admit that it does feel good to finally be in this position after all those losing seasons, home-court advantage, or not.

Going into Wednesday’s game, the Lake Show is now 2-1 in these bubble seeding games. They squeezed by the short-handed Clippers and then got smacked by double digits by the defending champion Toronto Raptors, before bouncing back against Utah.

Anthony Davis led the way with a double-double of 42 points and 12 rebounds. He shot an impressive 13-28 (46.4%) from the floor, including going 50% from three. Davis deserved all of the praise for his performance after dropping 42 points in a match-up against the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Rudy Gobert, who, in comparison, had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Davis might have made his statement for Defensive Player of the Year with that performance.

 

LeBron James also had himself quite the game with a near triple-double of 22 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists. He finished the night shooting 9-16 (56.2%) from the field. James made sure to pour it on when it mattered most, emerging with eight straight points to start the fourth quarter.

 

Dwight Howard had an impressive outing, scoring 11 points in 17 minutes off the bench. He shot a perfect 4-4 from the field, which proved to be valuable in the competitive game against the Jazz. Perhaps Howard can continue to be the x-factor force off the bench, especially as a big man, since JaVale McGee seemed to struggle a bit in these seeding games after looking impressive in the scrimmages.

 

Lakers vs Thunder
Photo Credit: ABC30 Fresno

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope rounded out the list of Lakers who finished in double figures, with 10 points on 4-7 (57.1%) shooting and 1-3 (33%) from behind the arc.

Oklahoma City has only played in two games so far, splitting them with a win over Utah and a tough overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets. They are currently sitting at sixth place in the Western Conference, behind Utah and above the Dallas Mavericks.

They are led by veteran point guard Chris Paul, who leads the team in assists (6.8 per game) and steals (1.5 per game). leads the Thunder in scoring with 19.4 points per game. Big man Steven Adams leads the team in rebounding with 9.4 per game. Besides Paul, Adams, and a few veterans, the Thunder’s roster is filled with a lot of young players that are barely entering their twenties. Rookie forward Darius Bazley was in kindergarten when Paul was drafted in 2005.

Heading into the 2019-20 season, Oklahoma City was entering a new chapter in their franchise by trading away the final member of their 2012 Western Conference Champion squad, Russell Westbrook, to the Houston Rockets for Paul. Everyone thought that the franchise was heading into full rebuilding mode, and nobody thought they would be anywhere close to the playoffs. Head coach Billy Donovan has done a great job leading the ship to get the Thunder to this place.

The Lakers will have to make sure to lock down on their transition defense to slow down this young Thunder squad.

 

 

You can watch the Lakers play against the Thunder on Wednesday, August 5, at 3:30pm on ESPN and Spectrum SportsNet.

 

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Isaiah Torres

Twitter: Isaiah_Torres24

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