A Look Ahead: The Lakers Forecast Shows Thunder

Six of the Lakers next seven games in two weeks are at the Staples Center, and one of them is a road game versus the Clippers. The first game of this stretch begins on Tuesday on the road in Oakland to take on the now Monte Ellis-less Golden State Warriors. The Lakers face the Warriors twice in one week, the first on Tuesday in Oakland, and then Sunday down in L.A. The Warriors have to redefine who they are as a team after losing their top scorer, Ellis, and received Andrew Bogut who is out indefinitely with a fractured left ankle. The Warriors knew that and seem to be building for the future, but that doesn’t help the present. The Lakers, as usual, have a huge advantage inside with Bynum and Gasol and need to exploit those match-ups to be victorious. Also with a small quick team like the Warriors, ball control and tempo are important to not let the Warriors get in the open court where they can score on lay-ups and open three-pointers.

The game of the week for the Lakers will be Thursday night against the top seed in the west, the Oklahoma City Thunder, also the home to Laker favorite, Derek Fisher. The last time these two teams met, it was on a back-to-back road trip for the Lakers after they played the previous night in a victory against the Mavericks. The Lakers played well up until the end of the third when they seemed to have hit the wall. But this time, the Lakers will not have played the day before, it will be on their home court, and it will be the new Lakers team with Ramon Sessions.

Metta World Peace seems to always get up for big games and games when his defense is truly needed, like in this game against Kevin Durant. But the biggest key will be guarding and controlling the Thunder’s point guard Russell Westbrook. This will be where the Lakers world will be able to see what Sessions can really do matched-up against Westbrook. He has a huge obstacle ahead of him because in order to slow down this Thunder team, Westbrook must be contained and kept out of the lane.

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Kobe Bryant also has some revenge to serve up in this game as James Harden got the best of him in their first meeting. The keys to victory for the Lakers, keep the guards of the Thunder out of the lane, and limit the amount of fast break opportunities down to a minimal by taking care of the ball and slowing the tempo down.

The Lakers are back at it on Saturday night at home against the New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets gave the Lakers everything they have in their previous meeting as the game went into overtime, but this game should be different since it’s in L.A. and they are more focused as the season winds down. Then again, the Lakers got into trouble through the guard play of the Hornets. Jarrett Jack went off for 30 points, but look for Sessions to contain Jack. Look for the Lakers to utilize the big men underneath and play solid defense to grab the victory from the Hornets.

The Lakers have four games this week, but three of them are against sub-.500 teams. They need to start consistently winning the games they are supposed to win, and they need to treat the Oklahoma City as Game 7 in the playoffs as the season begins to end, and the playoffs approach.

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