Point Guard: Russell Westbrook vs. Derek Fisher
Fisher is 35 and allowed 30-year-old Steve Blake to go off for a triple-double (23 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds) Wednesday. So it's not just young point guards he struggles with. Westbrook averaged 22 points, 9.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds his last two games against L.A.
Shooting Guard: Thabo Sefolosha vs. Kobe Bryant
Kobe's point production vs. the Thunder: 31-26-40-11. Sefolosha has done about as good a job defensively as anyone, but Bryant averages 27 against the Thunder and the league.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant vs. Ron Artest
Artest has made a career bullying opponents defensively. But Durant is shooting right at 50 percent and averaging 26.4 points against Artest's teams the last two season. The thin man isn't intimidated.
Power Forward: Jeff Green vs. Pau Gasol
Both guys create mismatches their teams thrive on, Green by taking bigger power forwards outside, Gasol by beating smaller ones down low. Neither has sparkled in this series this season (Gasol 13 ppg, 8 rpg on 39.4 percent shooting; Green 11 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 37.7 FG pct.).
Center: Nenad Krstic vs. Andrew Bynum
Health is an issue for both. Krstic says the knee that caused him to miss the last four games is fine. Bynum is returning from a strained Achilles tendon but is expected to return for Game 1 of the playoffs. Bynum's stats against the Thunder (19.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 62.8 FG pct) show his value. In the one game he didn't play, OKC romped.
Bench production is less a factor in the playoffs due to days off and starters playing more minutes. When Bynum's healthy, Lamar Odom can return to his sixth-man role. But when the reserves are in, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Eric Maynor provide more production than everyone off the Lakers bench other than Odom.
Coach: Scott Brooks vs. Phil Jackson
Phil Jackson has coached almost twice as many playoff games (300) as Scott Brooks has served as a head coach (151). Jackson can make adjustments and insert counter moves that could perplex a young Thunder team on which many players are making their playoff debut.
The Thunder posted an identical road record as the Lakers, which is startling. The difference in the Lakers being the top seed and Oklahoma City being the No. 8 seed is the Lakers were 34-7 at home, while the Thunder was 27-14 at the Ford Center
The Lakers' top seven players have played in a combined 617 playoff games. Six of the nine players in the Thunder's rotation are making their playoff debuts. It's so lopsided, Lakers reserve guard Shannon Brown has played in 22 playoff games, more than anyone in OKC's rotation.