This series can't possibly be explained or predicted with statistics and facts. The only fact is that we are in for an emotional, physical, and possibly historic Conference semifinal. For the record, I am a Los Angeles Laker fan, and if I had to make a prediction it would be OKC in 7. As much as it pains me to predict the end of my Lakers' season, I think OKC is the logical pick. But I still think this series can go either way, and anyone who thinks different should consider the context of this match up. Oklahoma City's advantage is in their youth and explosiveness. They have three guys that can give you 30 on any night, and by now, they should have enough experience as a team to win an NBA title. I think having Derek Fisher in their locker room could be a behind the scenes ingredient to this team's readiness also. OKC has scoring, rebounding, toughness, and defense, and it could very well be their time.
In the other corner we have Kobe and the Lakers, a much different framework of basketball. The Lakers' big three mostly operates from the free throw line down. Having Gasol and Bynum gives them a front court advantage against any team they play. What the Lakers need to beat Oklahoma City is a concerted effort on defense, a slow paced tempo where they can establish their inside game, and they need Kobe to be great. Don't get me wrong, LA's 'others' are important too if they are going to score more points than OKC. (After all, that is ultimately how you win the game) But Gasol and Bynum will have to really work against the always physical Perkins and Ibaka. Kobe has to be the best player on the floor for the Lakers to win, and Metta World Peace has to bring it on the defensive end, assuming his teammates will follow. I'm tempted to say if the Lakers don't win a game in Oklahoma, they won't win the series. I think Oklahoma City can win a game in LA, so the Lakers must win at least one of these first two games in Oklahoma City. I expect OKC to come out hot at home, the Lakers have to be able to match their energy to avoid a blow out. Let's not forget, LA is coming off of a seven game series, and OKC is well rested. Like I said, my logical pick would be OKC in 7, but I don't see Kobe or the Lakers laying down, despite the streaky caliber of their opponent.