Friday, April 5, 2013

0 Oklahoma City should lose now, win later

By Shaee Flatt

With last night’s win over the Spurs, the Thunder are just 0.5 games from the top seed in the West. While it 
sounds great, that is far from great for the Thunder. Why? The Los Angeles Lakers are why. 

Los Angeles is likely going to be the eighth and final seed in the West, and for this reason the Thunder should do everything they can to make sure that they finish second in the west, to avoid playing the Lakers. 

While the Thunder have been a far better team than the Lakers during the regular season, a playoff series with LA, would wear the Thunder out, even if they ended up advancing. 

For the past few weeks, the Lakers have been much better, and it seems for now, that Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard have put their differences aside and started focusing on winning. 

A focused Lakers team would be a tough matchup for Oklahoma City. With Howard and Gasol down low, the Lakers have a clear advantage on Oklahoma City in the post, no matter who is down low for the Thunder. 

Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant is capable, even at his age, of containing Kevin Durant defensively. 

Durant has the height advantage and could shoot over Kobe at times, but Kobe has the metal fortitude to really break down Durant if he tries. He is also stronger,and could keep Durant out of the paint pretty well, especially if he only has to defend him in stretches.

The difference maker would be Russell Westbrook. Outside of Kobe, LA doesn’t have anyone that can 
match up well with Westbrook, and Kobe can’t guard both Westbrook and Durant at the same time.

Westbrook gives Oklahoma City a great advantage. Either way, the Thunder would have a big advantage 
with Westbrook but the Lakers would have an even bigger one in the post. 

Win or lose, playing the Lakers in the first round would be exhausting for the Thunder. 

It’s a series that could go seven games, and wear the Thunder out before the real challenges start. Grabbing the one seed in the West could mean facing the Lakers, followed by the Clippers, followed by the Spurs, and finally the Miami Heat.

That’s just brutal. Meanwhile the number two seed could mean facing the Golden State Warriors, 
Denver Nuggets, Spurs and Heat. 

Still difficult, but not nearly as brutal. 

No to mention, KD and Westbrook would ensure they were 100 percent heading into the playoffs, just like Miami is doing with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. 

It’s the smart play for any team who is serious about winning a championship and no longer has anything to play for. 

The Thunder have no benefit of winning the rest of the regular season. 

They’d be better off losing. Lose now, and win later, OKC.

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