Friday, April 16, 2010

Series to Watch: Thunder vs Lakers

April 16, 2010

Don't call it an upset just yet, but this is a series that is definitely worth watching.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are very underestimated and are not expected to make any splash in the playoffs, especially against the Los Angeles Lakers. With that said, there are intriguing factors in this first-round playoff series that should be taken into consideration.

With this being the first ever playoff series for the Thunder since leaving Seattle, the Oklahoma City crowd will be intense and in full support of their Thunder. The first taste of postseason stardom will definitely generate an electrifying environment among Thunder fans. And their emotions will be strikingly similar to those felt by Golden State Warrior fans in 2007.

In the '07 Western Conference Playoffs match-up between the Dallas Mavericks (first seed) and Golden State Warriors (eighth seed), the crowd played an integral role in the Warriors' success. Winning the series in six games (4-2), Golden State fueled their performances on the passion of a city, having not reached the playoffs since 1994. The energy of the crowd was palpable, even through television sets.

There is no doubt that Oklahoma City will mimic that same passion.

Behind MVP-candidate Kevin Durant, the Thunder will bring a combination of youth, energy and swagger to the court come playoff time. Most notably, the Thunder will having nothing to lose when they face the Lakers, which could be a dangerous factor to consider for L.A. Conversely, the Lakers will have something to prove as they are expected to reach the NBA Finals once again and contend for another title.

This season the Thunder have played the Lakers four times, losing the series 1-3. But the Lakers winded down their season on a mediocre note (5-5 in the final 10 games), while the Thunder had some impressive wins down the stretch, defeating the Lakers, Celtics and Mavericks in the process.

Don't just count this series out as a four-and-out for the Lakers, the Thunder could very well steal a few games and make it exciting. However, if L.A. even dismisses the Thunder as a meager challenge, it could be the making of an unprecedented upset.

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