(1) L.A. Lakers (57-25) v. (8) Oklahoma City Thunder (50-32)
Series schedule: Game 1 – Today at Los Angeles 3 p.m. ET (ABC); Game 2 – Tuesday at Los Angeles 10:30 p.m. ET (TNT); Game 3 – Thursday at Oklahoma City 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT); Game 4 – Saturday at Oklahoma City 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN); Game 5 – Tuesday 4/27 *at Los Angeles TBD; Game 6 – Friday 4/30 *at Oklahoma City TBD; Game 7 – Sunday 5/2 TBD. *If necessary.
Series keys: For Los Angeles: 1. Wake up Ron (Artest has got to pick it up slack on both ends). 2. Set the tone (Win Game 1 convincingly). 3. Contain the rest (Kevin Durant is going to get his, but slow down the rest, particularly PG Russell Westbrook). For Oklahoma City: 1. Embrace the moment (The young Thunder should rise to this challenge). 2. Stick to principles (Ranked 5th in NBA in field goal percentage defense, Oklahoma City must remain defensive oriented). 3. Show and prove (Durant is dubbed as superstar. Play like one in the playoffs).
Series outcome: Lakers have the better team, so they will win the series in six games, but the longer it goes, the better chance Oklahoma City has to pull off the upset.