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Lakers vs. Thunder: How they match up

It's the veteran and playoff-tested Lakers taking on young and athletic Oklahoma City, which has much to prove.

May 13, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Serge Ibaka and the Thunder will offer plenty of resistance in the paint for Pau Gasol and the Lakers.
Serge Ibaka and the Thunder will offer plenty of resistance in the paint… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Oklahoma City hasn't been to the NBA Finals but has plenty of time to get there with its youthful roster of size, speed and Kevin Durant.

The Thunder swept Dallas in the first round, and the Lakers were pressed to merely get out of it, needing seven games to beat Denver.

The Thunder won the regular-season series, 2-1, beating the Lakers with ease in Oklahoma City, 100-85, and at Staples Center, 102-93, before losing in double overtime at Staples Center without James Harden after the second quarter, 114-106.

Starting guards

Russell Westbrook is a better, faster version of Ty Lawson. Thabo Sefolosha is a decent defender but can't score. Kobe Bryant keeps turning back the clock, averaging 29.1 points in the first round. Ramon Sessions survived his first career playoff series but needs a bigger impact than his Game 7 line (four points, two assists, 19 minutes). EDGE: Lakers

Starting forwards

Durant edged Kobe Bryant for the scoring title and Serge Ibaka led the league in blocked shots. Pau Gasol had a relatively quiet first round, bottoming out with a three-point effort in Game 6. Metta World Peace had a solid return in Game 7, but there's no guarantee he can keep it up. EDGE: Thunder

Starting centers

If Andrew Bynum hasn't passed Dwight Howard, it's very close. Kendrick Perkins is a solid defender but has zero offensive game. Perkins also has an injured hip. EDGE: Lakers

Offense

Oklahoma City was third in the league with 103 regular-season points a game. The Thunder can score in a hurry, be it Durant, Westbrook or Harden. The Lakers couldn't score 100 on the Nuggets after Game 2. EDGE: Thunder

Defense/rebounding

Surprisingly, the Lakers averaged almost three more rebounds a game than Oklahoma City in the regular season. Defensively, they gave up one point fewer per game than the Thunder. EDGE: Lakers

Coaching

Scott Brooks was the NBA's coach of the year in 2010. Mike Brown is in only his second playoff series with the Lakers. EDGE: Thunder

Benches

Not even close. Matt Barnes was the Lakers' most consistent reserve in the regular season. He made three of 25 from three-point range in the first round. The Thunder has Harden, recently voted the top sixth man in the league. EDGE: Thunder

And the winner is . . .

The Thunder are young and rested. The Lakers are not. Oklahoma City in six games.

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