Metta World Peace and James Harden continue to be one of the more interesting subplots in this Thunder-Lakers series.
World Peace and Harden have been connected ever since World Peace connected with a vicious elbow on Harden late in the regular season. World Peace was suspended seven games and returned to the court for the second time in Game 1 in Oklahoma City Monday night.
World Peace said he wouldn’t shake Harden’s hand before the game because he doesn’t shake “substitutes’” hands. As fate would have it, the two were matched up often during the Thunder’s 29-point Game 1 win.
This elbow wasn’t as bad by World Peace but a sign that he isn’t backing down in any way from his characteristic physical style of play.
World Peace even seemed more locked in while hearing the boo birds making two 3-pointers in the opening quarter of Game 1. World Peace also hurt the Thunder while playing against the second unit that Harden leads by banging down low and using his strength.
Harden and the Thunder got the best of the Lakers in Game 1 and Harden played well himself. He scored 17 points and was aggressive getting to the line 10 times and making nine of those attempts.
Expect Mike Brown to look to continue putting World Peace on the court when Harden is out there. The Thunder often go small with Harden in and he essentially is matched up with forwards when he is in.
The Lakers don’t go small much and usually start Pau Gasol in the second and fourth quarters at the four. The Lakers had success with Gasol and World Peace out there with their second unit and that will mean more of World Peace and Harden guarding each other.
As of right now it seems to be the only edge LA could have going inside to World Peace. If some of these next few games are close and resemble physical playoff basketball, don’t be surprised if World Peace and Harden continue to exchange chippy plays.