Heat, Thunder on collision course | Basketball | CBC Sports

NBAHeat, Thunder on collision course

Posted: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 | 01:39 PM

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Kevin Durant (35) and the Thunder are on a collision course with LeBron James and the Heat. (Issac Baldizon/Getty Images) Kevin Durant (35) and the Thunder are on a collision course with LeBron James and the Heat. (Issac Baldizon/Getty Images)

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It's probably too early to draw conclusions, but there's two things blatantly clear from Game 1 of the second-round playoff series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder -- Oklahoma City is up for this one and it clearly didn't matter that it had a long layoff before Monday's triumphant opener.

It's probably too early to draw conclusions, but there's two things blatantly clear from Game 1 of the second-round playoff series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder -- Oklahoma City is up for this one and it clearly didn't matter that it had a long layoff before Monday's triumphant opener.

Oh, and the other thing. This fashion trend of people wearing non-prescription glasses must stop now, as was demonstrated by Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant (although mostly Westbrook) post-game? The general consensus on the Interwebs is that the all-world point guard should be stripped of his 10-of-15 shooting, 27-point, near-triple-double performance because of his choice of post-game attire -- a Steve Urkel-meets-Sally Jessy Raphael criminal act that had bloggers abuzz.

Back to ball, though. ESPN's Dave McMenamin had a nice piece Tuesday on how the Lakers helped create this Thunder team, going back to L.A.'s playoff victory over OKC in 2010. There's too many backstories in the Thunder's favour this time around, like Westbrook's performance, karma from the Metta World elbow or the mere presence of Derek Fisher on the Thunder roster.

Inside for the Lakers, sure, Pau Gasol reverted to that inconsistent subpar-shooting version of himself in Game 1, but Andrew Bynum did about as much as he could. You can't write off the Lakers yet -- as we all know, Kobe Bryant can kill a team by himself -- but you almost get a changing-of-the-guard feeling watching these two teams play.

HIBBERT NO LONGER FEELING HEAT

With Chris Bosh now out indefinitely with an abdominal strain, the Miami Heat check people are again over-analyzing his value to Miami. Yes, Bosh's presence has appeared to be redundant during stretches this season. But say what you want about him, -- for instance, the fact he doesn't play like a real power forward -- losing a double-digit scorer during the playoffs is not an ideal scenario.

The Indiana Pacers can take advantage of this in the sense that it frees Roy Hibbert up to stay where he belongs -- inside, rather than having Bosh stretch him outwards. The Pacers are a scrappy, likable team with a good coach, but it isn't enough to beat the Heat, with or without Bosh. See Danny Granger's performance in Game 1 on Sunday -- seven points on 1-of-10 shooting guarded by, and guarding LeBron James, who went for 32 and 15.

Granger has struggled to get his shot against James for the past two seasons, averaging a line of 5-for-15 and 15 points whenever the Pacers played the Heat before this series. Fully expecting this to continue, it puts more pressure than needed on David West, George Hill and Darren Collison to score. That said, they'll probably steal a game in Indy.

Boston could be trouble for Miami, but the collision course for the Heat and Thunder continues. Yet after the Derrick Rose debacle, anything can happen and is therefore a candidate for an asterisk this post-season.

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