2012 NBA Playoffs Conference Semifinals Preview: Los Angeles Lakers v.s. Oklahoma City Thunder


The 2012 NBA Playoffs roll on as the Western Conference Semifinals start this Monday. The 2nd-seed Oklahoma City Thunder will host the  3rd-seed Los Angeles Lakers. The Oklahoma City Thunder are coming off a lot of rest and the Los Angeles Lakers are coming off of a quick turnaround after knocking off the Denver Nuggets in seven games.

History was almost made in the First Round series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers almost became the ninth team in NBA history to lose a series after being up 3-1. After the Los Angeles Lakers went up 3-1, Andrew Bynum told the press that “close-out games” are easy to win. The Denver Nuggets came out a different team in Game 5 and Game 6, but could not get it done against the Lakers in Game 7.

On the other hand, the Oklahoma City Thunder seemed to have no problems in their First Round match-up against the Dallas Mavericks. The top two scorers for the Oklahoma City Thunder this postseason are Kevin Durant (26.5 points per game) and Russell Westbrook (22.3 points per game). They also got a huge contribution from their Sixth-Man of the Year, James Harden, who is averaging 18.3 points per game.

There are two big aspects that should impact this semifinals series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The first aspect is the impact of Metta World Peace on the series. On April 22nd, Metta World Peace was ejected for viciously elbowing James Harden in the head after making a layup. The league suspended Metta World Peace for seven games. Metta World Peace’s suspension ended after Game 6 of the First Round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.

This should seem to add of fire to the series as Metta World Peace came out and said that he would not shake James Harden’s hand before their Game 1 with the Oklahoma City Thunder. This statement is causing some of the Oklahoma City Thunder to speak out. Derek Fisher, former Los Angeles Lakers player, said “Good, old-fashioned Southern hospitality. That’s the type of reception that I expect that he’ll get, and that’s fair game.”

The other aspect to impact this semifinals series is the big guys for the Los Angeles Lakers. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol will have to be on their game if the Los Angeles Lakers want to get past the Oklahoma City Thunder and get into the Western Conference Finals.  Pau Gasol had 23 points, 17 rebounds, and six assists in Game 7 against the Denver Nuggets and Andrew Bynum had 16 points and a career playoff-high 18 rebounds. If Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum can play at that level for the entire series, then this could be a long hard-fought series.

Ricky’s Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder in 6 games

For more 2012 NBA Playoffs coverage, check out my podcast The Onside Kick. The Onside Kick covers all the biggest stories in the NBA, NCAA Basketball, NFL, NCAA Football, and MLB.

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