The Oklahoma City Thunder shocked the world last season when they did not back down from the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. The Thunder were not afraid to play the Lakers, and troubled Los Angeles with their speed and athletic players. Unlike many teams in the NBA, the Thunder play an up-tempo style and their young players are committed to the defensive end of the court.
The Lakers had trouble guarding the Thunder last season in the playoffs, and they were taken to six games before finally putting away Kevin Durant and his team. The Thunder’s crowd was an extraordinary unit, and the Lakers had to play three games in that hostile environment. Luckily, the Lakers’ veteran leadership and playoff experience aided them in overcoming the vicious crowd and knocking off the Thunder.
This season, the Thunder have emerged as one of the best teams in the Western Conference, and they are looking like a serious impediment in the Lakers’ quest for another title. This season, the Lakers are 2-0 against the Thunder and have a five game cushion for the second seed in the West.
The Thunder will cause the Lakers a lot of problems in the playoffs since their offensive system is something the Lakers have had trouble containing. However, the Thunder are still incapable of beating the Lakers in the playoffs and their players are not as experienced in the post-season. The Lakers have made deep playoff runs the past three seasons, and their entire roster has the ability to make clutch shots in late game situations. Unlike the NCAA tournament where one game can be decided with a fortuitous bounce off the rim, the NBA playoffs are dominated by veteran teams that know what it takes to win a playoff series.