The turnaround time for the Lakers has been short. Just the day before yesterday they left everything they had on the floor in defeating the Denver Nuggets for the chance to play tonight. Meanwhile, the Thunder have been waiting patiently – and likely enjoying watching whoever they’d face go through the grinder of a full 7 game slate.
And while we’ve talked offense and defense, tonight’s contest may come down to some of those other variables. Are the Lakers too fatigued? Have the Thunder been resting too long? Will Ron’s elbow be on the mind or Harden or Ron and affect either of their games? It will surely be on the mind of the crowd who usually don’t need anything extra to whip them into a frenzy but will have it anyways.
One thing is for sure, tonight will be as much about strategy and execution as it will be about harnessing the energy in the building while maintaining composure. Whichever team can win both sides of that equation will likely win this all important first game.
And make no mistake, tonight is important. Many only give the Lakers a chance to take this series should tonight’s contest tilt in their favor. The longer they go without a win in this series the fewer games they have to win four times, this is just simple math. And when facing a team as good as the Thunder, creating a more margin for error in chances that are already slim is imperative. For the Thunder, home court advantage is often the difference between winning and losing a series. Even though everyone sees them as the superior team, everyone thought the same thing about the Lakers the last series and we all saw how valuable playing the final game of that series at home meant to them.
So, tonight it begins. The boos for the visiting Lakers will be deafening. The Thunder’s skill and readiness will be on full display. The Lakers, though, have some experience and fortitude on their side as well. The time for talking about it is pretty much over, however. Ready or not, this thing gets going tonight and the players will decide who’s ready.
So, as we sit back and watch the game from our couches or desks, listen to it on the radio, or just follow the self updating boxscore, try to enjoy yourself. The Lakers are the underdog – as it should be. Enjoy that freedom from expectations and dig in. Also enjoy this series preview from Meir 21. If you weren’t ready before, you’ll surely be after this: