Thunder-Lakers: Brainstorming story lines and ideas for a OKC-LA showdown
What I’m thinking about a possible Thunder-Lakers series and the story lines we’re likely to pursue for The Oklahoman and NewsOK Sports if the Lakers advance. (I’d love to hear yours):
– Built to Beat L.A.: I think that’s the theme of this series for the Thunder. Sam Presti traded for Kendrick Perkins in February 2011, about 10 months after the Lakers took out the Thunder in 6 games by playing volleyball on the offensive glass. Oklahoma City needed to do something to counter Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. The arrival of Perkins and development of Serge Ibaka have done that. How much of that plan is thrown off if Perkins misses time with a strained hip flexor? A lot. But Berry Tramel made an interesting point in our writer’s meeting Monday: Presti actually started building to beat the Lakers two years earlier when he sent a first-round pick to Chicago for Thabo Sefolosha – Oklahoma City’s counter to Kobe Bryant.
Berry’s started working on an in-depth look at the building of the Thunder through the prism of facing the Lakers, and if Oklahoma City should survive that series there’s the obvious Spurs blueprint angle for a potential Oklahoma City-San Antonio Western Conference Finals….
– Did David Stern save the Lakers from themselves? For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over NBA commissioner David Stern rescinding the Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers trade because it was as bad deal for the Hornets, has anyone considered how badly it would have damaged the Lakers? Gasol gets knocked a ton for being soft, but would Bynum be breaking out the way he has the last month or so without Gasol? And how well would the Lakers have weathered Bynum’s bouts with immaturity without Gasol? It’s easy to think about how much better the Lakers would be with CP3. You don’t hear too much about how much worse they’d be without Gasol.
– Perk vs. Pau: Obviously Perkins’ hip is the great unknown. John Rohde addressed it in a story today and Darnell Mayberry blogged on it. It’s topic No. 1 for the Thunder, especially given Perkins’ history — and success — vs. the Lakers’ twin towers. There are more than a few Celtics fans who swear Boston would it all in 2010 had Perkins’ not gone down with a knee injury in Game 6 of that NBA Finals with the Lakers. Digging into Perkins’ history with the Lakers should be interesting.
– The Derek Fisher Factor: I wonder when the last time a player dumped during the season wound up facing his former team in a playoff series. The story of why the Lakers traded Fisher and how the Thunder managed to sign him might seem obvious, but I think there’s more to it. From the start I’ve said the Thunder signed him with the postseason and mind and now even some critics of the move are coming around. Any chance Fisher’s performance in the Mavericks series has Mitch Kupchak squirming a bit? I think it’s also time we looked at Fisher’s five biggest postseason moments — and it’s possible we could stretch it to 10. He’s had a tone of them. If the Lakers advance, having our staff in L.A. for Games 3-4 should give them a chance to write more about his place in Laker lore and among the L.A. fans.
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