With the Lakers having taken a commanding 3-1 lead over their first round foes, the Denver Nuggets, it seems like a foregone conclusion (though don’t tell that to these Lakers) that L.A. is making its way towards a date with the powerhouse Oklahoma City Thunder.
At the very least, the Lakers are a tough out (even though I hate that phrase). With the skillset that our two seven-footers have, as well as the tenacious defenders and, of course, megastar Kobe Bryant, you’d think that, though we’re beatable, many teams would rather take an alternate route to the NBA Finals.
Not some OKC fans, though. While I’m not one to complain about blog posts and such, I felt this one stung, even if a little. From Welcome to Loud City:
But one team scares me much more than the other. And yes, the team that scares me isn’t the one only a season removed from a championship with three of the best players in the game. The team that scares me is none other than the team we nearly swept in the first round last season. And here’s why.
1. These Aren’t Last Year’s Nuggets. [...] My point is, last year was a year of transition from one set of players to the next, and George Karl didn’t even have his rotations set yet. Now, this unit (more or less) has had a chance to work together and iron out the kinks.
2. The Thunder can’t slow down the Nuggets’ scoring attack. In two of their three games against the Thunder this year, the Nuggets have scored over 100. The other game, in which they scored 80, was played without Nene or McGee. They have no go-to option, but they have 7 guys who average at least 10 points per game, and all of them are capable of going off on any given night.
Don’t get me wrong: I like Welcome to Loud City (heretofore known as WtLC) almost as much as I like our fellow Fansided OKC blog, Thunderous Intentions.
But these guys are so, so wrong.
Before we get into that, we have to make something clear: These L.A. Lakers are not yet done with the Denver Nuggets, and we cannot look ahead. The Thunder are officially finished with their first-round opponent, the Dallas Mavericks, and we are not.
But the reasons for fearing Denver more than the Lakers? Those are really inaccurate. Last year’s Nuggets did have to undergo a short transition period, to be sure. Teams need more time to be cohesive to be more effective in basketball, and the Nuggets are no exception.
But the Lakers have exploited the piles and piles of kinks that Denver has, nearly flawlessly (when they want to). And if Thunder fans don’t have faith in slowing down the Nuggets’ scoring attack, then they better be afraid of the Laker defense, which held the Nuggets to under 100 points three out of the four games, and under 90 points in two of them. The Lakers have also held the Nuggets to under 45 percent shooting all four games and to 40 percent or lower in two out of four.
We know that WtLC is making this more about their fear of the Nuggets than their apathy towards the Lakers.
But, in the NBA, size still matters. The Thunder have no offensive post threat and are totally reliant on dribble penetration and outside shooting, something that just doesn’t work in the playoffs. They have some elite defensive bigs, but none with enough size to match the skillset of Andrew Bynum.
But we’ll wait to analyze that series when we finish off the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday at Staples.
There’s no real story here, I know. But perhaps the anticipation of the team that will be heavily favored to dismantle — if not, sweep — us is getting to me.
Plus, I’m really, really bored of the Denver Nuggets.