Game 4 was a disaster, Game 5 a triumph.
So what will Friday's Game 6 bring?
To get a feel for what we'll see tonight, Andy and I cut a handy, dandy playoff PodKast as I was heading out to OKC. It's a super high-tech setup. He's in studio, I'm on something called a "cell phone." Perhaps you've heard of them. We cover a fair amount of ground, including what exactly changed for the Lakers Tuesday night, particularly in their overwhelmingly good first quarter. From my perspective, it may have been the best six minutes of defense they played all year.
From there, we get into how the flow of games can be impacted by little things. Yeah, the Lakers turned the ball over a few times early, but some resulted in dead ball situations not allowing the Thunder to run, run, run. (The sort of thing Derek Fisher talked about after Wednesday's practice.) Sometimes when it rains it pours. Saturday in Game 4, the Lakers drowned, in Game 5 it was OKC's turn to lament their lack of umbrella.
We talk, too, about the microscope under which Kobe Bryant has been placed during this series. Decline Watch '10! is in full swing, with every play and decision deconstructed in ways going beyond the normal emphasis already put on everything he does on the floor. We look at the difference between his low-volume shooting nights in the last two games, and what made one more effective than the other.
From there, we look forward to Game 6 and make our predictions- we both see wins, but wouldn't be at all surprised to be back at Staples for a Game 7 Sunday afternoon. One key is obviously free throws. I don't think L.A. will shoot more of them tonight than OKC, but if they can keep the gap relatively close I like the Lakers' chances. And finally, we give a proper funeral to what I thought was an outstanding mustache Ron Artest sported Tuesday night, lamentably gone by Wednesday morning.