|Written by Michael|
Bet on the NBAThe Western Conference semifinal matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder may prove to be the premier series of this round, not to mention an annual rivalry. While the Thunder are young and energetic, the Lakers are experienced and steady as you go.
Oklahoma City should be a factor in the postseason for years to come with the likes of perennial scoring champ Kevin Durant and his co-pilot Russell Westbrook. Add in sixth man of the year award winner, James Harden and you may be looking at a youthful edition of Michael, Scotty and bad boy Dennis of the Bulls dynasty years.
On the other side of the court, you have Kobe Bryant, who does the best impression of MJ I've ever seen, including the sick routine, during the seven game Denver quarterfinal series just that just concluded. Along with Bryant, you have Pau Gasol and recently reactivated Metta World Peace who does a pretty good impression of Dennis Rodman himself.
Just ask the aforementioned James Harden of the Thunder, who was the recipient of an alleged celebratory elbow to the head by "World Peace" at the end of the regular season earning "Peace" a seven game suspension. The matchup between Harden and Metta during this round should be worth watching in and of itself.
Another person of interest has to be ex Laker, Derek Fisher, who will come in off the bench against his ex mates. The two big men, Kendrick Perkins of the Thunder and Andrew Bynum of L.A. should be fun to watch as well assuming Perkins is healthy. If Bynum decides to show some interest in the festivities you have to give the talent edge to him.
While Los Angeles struggled to beat the Nuggets in round one, the Thunder got their brooms out and swept last years NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks with just the mandatory four victories. Besides being younger, they will also be well rested, albeit, hopefully for their sake, not rusty in the opening game.
These two teams met three times during the regular season with Oklahoma City emerging victorious in two of them. One of the Thunder wins was at home, in Chesapeake Energy Arena and the other at Staples Center in Hollywood. The Lakers had to perservere through two overtime sessions to win the last contest between these two units on April 22, also at Staples.
As this series opens, Oklahoma City is a prohibitive favorite to win it at -$440, while the Lakers are at +$340.