It’s no secret that the Thunder have enough talent to match up with the Lakers — especially when Kobe Bryant manages to score only 12 points on 5-of-10 from the floor. My gut feeling is that the Lakers will still win the series, but if the Thunder do somehow pull off the upset, it will be simply because they have shown that they aren’t afraid of the defending world champions. Well, that and the fact that Kevin Durant could be the MVP of the league — just ask Dwight Howard.
Oklahoma City dominated the Lakers on Saturday, with Durant and Russell Westbrook — possibly the best young tandem in the NBA — leading the way with a combined 40 points. Having won both of their home games to even the series at 2-2, the Thunder have now put a tremendous amount of pressure on Los Angeles to take care of business at home in Game 5. Otherwise, they’ll put themselves in a position where the Thunder can return home leading the series 3-2 with a chance to clinch in front of what has been an electrifying crowd at the Ford Center.
Even Ron Artest — arguably the best man-to-man defender in the league — is having trouble containing Kevin Durant, as evidenced by the way he blew by him on Saturday to stuff home a dunk that sent the Ford Center into a frenzy. The Zen Master may have to try a bit harder to rattle the Thunder’s star forward if he wants to avoid a repeat of the 29-point 19-rebound performance Durant dropped on his squad on Friday night.
The Lakers are probably still the better team overall. They’re the No. 1 seed for a reason. They’ve been in this situation many times before. They’re certainly more experienced and seasoned when it comes to playoff basketball. If they end up unable to advance, it will be due in large part to the fact that they’ve run into the hungriest team in the NBA.