Without Anthony Davis and Alex Caruso, the Lakers played the Thunder to a tie through 4 quarters on Monday. In overtime, the Lakers pulled ahead, mostly by playing solid defense and outclassing the team with their superior talent. Tonight, the Lakers will face the Thunder for the 3rd and final time this year, hoping to sweep the season series.
First, we don’t yet know if AD or AC will play this game. Both are questionable again tonight and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if both sat out this game. With the Lakers schedule being Friday (Grizzlies in LA) and then Sunday (Nuggets in Denver) both guys could sit tonight and/or Friday and then have gotten about a week off before getting back out there. The Lakers have been cautious with players nursing injuries this year, so at this point I won’t be surprised either way — even if neither player is dealing with something the team considers serious.
Whether those two play or not, my hope is that even though they’re coming off another OT game, that the Lakers have their legs under them a bit better tonight. Both the Thunder’s offensive rebounding and their points in the paint were fueled by fresher legs than what the Lakers had. OKC’s bouncy athletes simply ran harder and jumped quicker/higher than the Lakers and it led to them gaining advantages in the paint on the backboards and when looking to score. The Lakers can shut this down with more effort and commitment, but they’ll need some oomph in their legs to really follow through.
I’m also interested in seeing how the Lakers rotation plays out this game. If neither AD nor Alex play, it very likely means Keef and Wes will be back in the lineup again tonight. If that is the case, though, I do wonder if Keef will start again. I thought Keef played okay, but his relative lack of athleticism when flanked by Gasol at C and an energy-conserving Bron meant that the team’s frontcourt lacked quickness and athleticism. A swap of Keef and Kuz could help rectify that, so I’ll be interested in seeing which direction Frank goes.
Beyond that, I’m really just hoping for a relatively clean game that ends in regulation. I honestly would not be surprised if the Lakers lose…these heavy minutes are going to catch up with them at some point. And if it’s not tonight, Friday vs. the Grizz could be it. If the team can muster the energy and, more specifically, hit some outside shots, it would go a long way in helping them get this W, though. OKC will play hard, but at some point the talent discrepancy will win out of both sides approach their respective ceilings. My only questions is, will the Lakers come anywhere close to theirs.
Where you can watch: 7:00pm start time on Spectrum SportsNet.