Oklahoma City, OK - The Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant will face the Oklahoma City Thunder on ESPN tonight in a highly anticipated match-up. Oklahoma City is sitting at 17-4 so far this season, and Kevin Durant has been having the best all-around year of his career so far. Los Angeles finally has Kobe Bryant back on the floor, but are just 10-11 so far this season.
Both of these teams are excited about the match-up, but the Lakers are out to prove a point. They are not currently considered a serious contender in the Western Conference at this time. Kobe Bryant returning has certainly excited the fans and made them question whether or not L.A. has a chance to make the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how the team is able to compete with the Thunder. However, the Thunder are definitely the favorites to win this game. For more information on the odds, you may study up more updated NBA picks and news here.
The Thunder on the other hand have already proven that they are legitimate title contenders this season. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are playing their best basketball together and it is translating into wins. This game is just another night for the Thunder, but they are a bit more excited to play it with Kobe Bryant being back as well.
Most analysts are expecting the Thunder to blow the Lakers out of the water, but it could be closer than most expect. These two teams have had a bit of a “rivalry” type of atmosphere surrounding their match-ups since their playoff series a couple years back. The game will have a lot of hype and attention surrounding it especially with Kobe Bryant getting better and better since his return.
One major match-up to watch in this game will be Pau Gasol vs. Serge Ibaka. Gasol has been one of the main go-to guys for the Lakers all season, but Ibaka usually holds the advantage when these two face off. The Lakers are going to need a major boost from their bench and a great defensive effort to come away with a win on the road against the Thunder.
With Steve Blake out at least six weeks, the Lakers are left with no legitimate point guard. As of right now, Mike D’Antoni’s plans are unknown. If we had to make a wild guess, we would see Kobe Bryant starting at the point guard position, while Jodie Meeks is inserted as their shooting guard.
As for the Oklahoma City Thunder, they have won 11 of their last 12 games, including a big win against the streaking Indiana Pacers. Kevin Durant is leading the team in scoring, with 28.4 points per game. He is currently ranked 2nd in the MVP race. Westbrook is their second leading scorer, averaging just under 22 points per game. They are expected to exceed their team average of 105 points per game against the weak Laker defense. However, you never know what to expect from the Lakeshow.
Evan Massey is the Lead Editor for Hoops-Nation. Follow Evan on Twitter at @Massey_Evan.