The Lakers have won their first playoff match against the Thunder by 87-79, and even though he did not scored that much points, the victory certainly had to do a lot with Ron Artest and his defensive tactics against Kevin Durant.
Artest might not be one of the most loved characters in the NBA due to his sensitive temper and his attitude towards referees, but one thing is for sure: he is the Lakers’ secret weapon at the postseason. The 30 year old veteran has the task of stopping Durant during the playoffs, and as per what we saw in game 1 between Los Angeles and Oklahoma City; he is certainly ready to take on the young superstar in order to help his team beat the Thunder in the best-of-seven series.
The small forward / shooting guard from the Lakers knew that he was not going to be fully judged concerning his game and attitude in the court until the critical period of the season, where we would be asked to play his best defense in order to help Los Angeles no matter who they were going to play against.
Now he has been asked by Phil Jackson to replace Trevor Ariza in the starting lineup. Artest knew that he would be playing mostly on the defensive end, which means a sacrifice on offensive, but he is after all, part of a team, and will play at any position requested.
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History has shown Artest’s strength against top players in rival teams in the playoffs, and game two is probably going to be a mirror of game one, with Ron Ron making life miserable for the young Durant as he did in the first match, allowing the 21 year old small forward to only 7 shots out of 24 attempts.
If Kevin Durant is able to put an end to the pressure of Artest on him, and if Kobe Bryant continues to play an average basketball (he was 6 of 19 in game 1), then the Thunder might have a chance of beating the Lakers.
Game 2 is at home for Oklahoma city, and the Thunder knows that the Lakers would like to go for their second in a row in the first round of the postseason, therefore, coach Scott Brooks will have to plan well on his strategies against those of Phil Jackson in order to avoid an early 0-2 in the series.
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