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L.A. Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder NBA Playoff Preview & Free Pick

NBA Playoffs Basketball Matchup: Nuggets vs Lakers

After disposing of the defending champion Dallas Mavericks in a quick four games, the Oklahoma City Thunder got eight days rest as they prepare to host the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinal on Monday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Date/Time: 9:30 PM ET, Monday, May 14, 2012
Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Broadcast: TNT
Spread: OKC -7.5
Over/Under: 191.5

Matchup | Preview 

Los Angeles meanwhile, are entering Monday’s game off just a one-day break after needing seven games to eliminate a pesky Denver Nuggets team that fought back from being down 3-1 in the series to force the deciding matchup on Saturday at the Staples Center.

Despite the Nuggets hanging around for most of the contest, the Lakers were able to outmuscle them down the stretch, and behind a gritty defensive effort from Metta World Peace who returned from suspension, and a dominant inside game from Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, LA walked away with a 96-87 win.

Gasol, who scored a season-low three points in Game 6, had 23 points and 17 rebounds and Steve Blake came off the bench to score a playoff career-high 19 points. In the meantime, Kobe Bryant had a relatively quiet 17 points, but did have eight loud assists and a huge smile when the game was over. [soliloquy id=”82219″]

It was the Lakers’ 16th victory in a Game 7, second only to the Boston Celtics’ 20.

In spite of the Lakers maximum effort, even more impressive was the way the Thunder manhandled the Mavericks in their series, sealing the deal with a 103-97 victory back on May 5.

James Harden scored 15 of his playoff career-high 29 points in that outing, while three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant added 24 points and 11 rebounds, as the Thunder stormed back from a 13-point deficit in the final 10 minutes to end Dallas’ hopes for a repeat.

It was the first series sweep for the franchise since 1996, when the Seattle Supersonics easily handled the defending-champion Houston Rockets.

After they themselves where eliminated last season, Oklahoma City looks poised this time around.

The Thunder have already taken two of three regular-season meetings with the Lakers who won their most recent encounter, escaping with a 114-106 overtime win April 22.

Free Pick : Thunder- Durant averages 25.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 17 career games against the Lakers, and will definitely be a handful for some weary Lakers’ legs. Throw in All-Star point guard Brian Westbrook and the possible return of big Kendrick Perkins, and I look for the Thunder to take Game 1 at home.

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