There are just a few games left in the regular season and the Oklahoma City Thunder are currently sitting atop the Western Conference standings.
If the playoffs started today, it would be the Los Angeles Lakers that the Thunder would be matched up with in the first round.
Remember back before the season started when so many people were picking the Lakers to win the conference and the title? That was even back before the James Harden trade. A lot has changed since then.
It does look like the Lakers are going to lock up that eight-seed now and the Thunder have control of their destiny in terms of getting the one-seed.
Should the Thunder try and avoid the Lakers in the first round?
There’s a few ways to look at it. On one hand, the Lakers simply haven’t been very good this season and that’s why they are only barely making the playoffs. They can’t defend and have very little depth. The Thunder should be able to handle them as easily as any other eight-seed.
But they are the Lakers right? They still have Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash. They could steal a game or two with those guys and possibly change the momentum in a series.
The Thunder haven’t exactly been rolling over their opponents lately either. They look like they have some issues and you don’t want any chinks in the armor before going into a series vs. the Lakers.
The reality is that the Thunder shouldn’t be concerning themselves with the Lakers or any first-round opponent. But the Lakers aren’t your average eight-seed, no matter what anyone says. This will feel more like a second-round series at least.
We know the Thunder have their work cut out for them this postseason. No series will be given to them including the first-round if it’s the Lakers waiting there for them.