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Thunder is better prepared this time for Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum

by Berry Tramel Published: May 13, 2012

But when you need post defense, you really need it, else victory is not possible. If teams can score easily in the paint, the game is over – check out the Lakers' Game 7 win over Denver on Saturday night, when Bynum and Gasol combined for 39 points and 20 offensive rebounds.

“Their presence makes us different than everybody else,” said Laker coach Mike Brown.

In that six-game series two years ago, Gasol and Bynum combined to shoot 55 percent from the field and average 30 points and 21.2 rebounds a game.

But such percentages won't come so easy this time around. Perkins pushes Bynum away from the basket. Against Perk, Bynum's dunks become hooks and his 5-footers become 8-footers.

Perk's Celtics beat the Kobe/Gasol/Bynum Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals and like to think they would have beaten them again in the 2010 championship series, had Perkins not suffered a knee injury that kept him out of Game 7.

“Perk is an unbelievable post defender, rebounder for us,” said Kevin Durant. “A force in the paint. We're going to need him.”

Perkins suffered a strained hip on May 5, when the Thunder closed out its series conquest of Dallas, and his status for the second round has been cloudy. But indications are Perkins will be ready for Game 1 against the Lakers.

“It's very important,” said the Thunder's Daequan Cook. “Perk carries a big load for us.”

No team in the NBA has two interior players the likes of Gasol and Bynum. But no team in the NBA has interior defense the likes of Perkins and Ibaka. Which is why Presti's building plan pays off and the Thunder wins this series in five games.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at