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Western Conference Semifinals
L.A. Lakers @ Oklahoma City Thunder, Game 5 (OKC -8, 192)
The Pick: Oklahoma City -8
Another win last night means we’ve now won 10 out of our last 11 (!!) and are 13-4 overall in these NBA playoffs. Needless to say, times are good in the Mancini household. Just decided to take the wife for an unexpected vacation in a couple of weeks (true story)… Anyway, obviously I feel like I’m seeing things really well right now, let’s keep it rolling tonight…
The Oklahoma City Thunder have Kobe Bryant and the L.A. Lakers on the brink of elimination, ahead 3 games to 1 in their Western Conference Semifinals series. The Lakers have been competitive since they were beaten by 29 points in Game 1, but I think the Thunder smell blood and will be looking to make a statement in front of the home crowd tonight.
The Russell Westbrook/Kevin Durant/James Harden triumvirate has been too much for the Lakers to handle, but, then again, they’re too much for just about any team to handle, which is why the Thunder are on the verge of the Western Conference Finals. Kobe Bryant publicly called out teammate Pau Gasol after Saturday’s Game 4 loss, saying that the Spaniard need to be more aggressive on the offensive end. At times it did appear as if the Thunder were daring Gasol to shoot, but I think his passivity in this series has more to do with the presence of Serge Ibaka, the best shot-blocker in the league and a key, underrated piece of Oklahoma City’s team.
The infighting in the Lakers’ locker room is in stark contrast to the Thunder, who appear as though they genuinely enjoy playing with each other. Westbrook gets a little shot-happy at times, but other than that they certainly look the part of a championship team. The Lakers, on the other hand, look like an old fighter that has reached the end of the line. They just don’t look fresh and energetic, and they’re 7-17-1 ATS in their last 25 games playing on only one day’s rest, which is what they’re dealing with tonight. I’ll take my chances with the younger, deeper, more athletic home team, even if I do have to lay 8 points. I’m on Oklahoma City tonight.