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Is Game 3 must-win for the Lakers? Yes, yes it is.

May 18, 2012, 3:53 PM EDT

Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant AP

One last time we can thank the lockout for the joys of a condensed schedule — the Lakers and Thunder are going to play the rare playoff back-to-back the next two nights.

Which clearly favors the younger legs and better athletes of the Thunder. It’s going to be a lot harder for the Lakers to control the tempo and limit the Thunders transition points in Game 4.

With the Lakers already down 0-2, that makes Game 3 basically a must win.

Los Angeles feels it should have won Game 2, up 7 with two minutes left, but a Kobe Bryant turnover that led to a Kevin Durant dunk, a Steve Blake turnover, a Durant three and… it snowballed.

Thing is, the Lakers need to basically have the same game again and this time just close it out.

The Lakers did a great job dictating the tempo of Game 2. Big men Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol did a great job being aggressive on the pick-and-roll cutting off Russell Westbrook’s path to the basket. The result was an isolation heavy, disjointed Thunder offense. The second best offense in the NBA regular season (by points per possession) was held to 77 points.

Look for OKC to counter by just trying to get out and run, and to have better counters on their pick-and-roll. And I just have a feeling the answer will be more James Harden, their best playmaker.

Oklahoma City is the better team. History says that teams that start a series winning the first two win nearly 95 percent of the time. But expect a desperate Lakers team on Friday night. This is still a team with rings, a team with pride that believes they still can win it. Win it all. They are not going to roll over.

And they know this is must win.

  1. dwirk - May 18, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    Well your article is correct game 3 is a must win for a team down 0-2. Im pretty sure no team has come back down 0-3 in the association

  2. aboogy123456 - May 18, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    Is it possible that a back to back could favor the lakers? Yea the thunder are young, but maybe if both teams are a little tired that could slow the game down a bit, thus favoring the lakers?

    • somekat - May 18, 2012 at 4:30 PM

      A slowed down slow guy is still slower than a slowed down fast guy. There is no way I can think of that would benefit an older, slower, less athletic team by playing 2 games in 2 nights

      On a side not, they should always have back to back playoffs. The only off day should be for travel. These guys are supposed to be professionals, if they can’t play 2 straight nights and still be the best, then they aren’t really the best. There isn’t a reasonable excuse as to why, again, a professional, can’t play a game Monday night, go home or to the hotel, sleep, wake up Tuesday, and play again.

      I realize I’m not a professional athlete, but I regularly get stuck workin 18-20 hours in a day. I don’t then get a day off to recoup. I’m expected back in work the next day (not to practice for work, to be at work). Obviously my job isn’t as tiring, but it’s a 48 minute game vs a 18-20 hour day. Sorry, I just can’t help but rant about how spoiled today’s professional athletes are

      • thebigkahuna23 - May 18, 2012 at 4:52 PM

        You probably get to sit on your can for a very large portion of those 18-20 hours. You also get paid overtime, and these guys obviously don’t. I’m not saying these guys need any extra pay, but it’s a tough job that doesn’t just involve playing in games. Not only that aside from your current contract job security is nil and the turnover rate on most players in very short.

        I don’t know how tall you are, but if you’re 6 feet tall you’re as tall as some NBA guards. I know a ton of dudes that tall, none of them are NBA’ers surprisingly, maybe it requires some extremely hard work and dedication. Or maybe my friends just got unlucky.

      • iknowzeroaboutsports - May 18, 2012 at 5:21 PM

        “Or maybe my friends just got unlucky.” I don’t think you understand the level of talent in the NBA. The 2012 Bobcats would roll the 2012 UK team. That’s how elite the NBA pros are.

  3. bearsstillsuck - May 18, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Everybody knows the lakers will win because the nba is as predictable as the wwe. But the thunder will absolutely win the series.

  4. zacksdad - May 18, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    Is the back to back the blame of the lockout or that 3 teams that share the same building happen to have the 2 home games around the same weekend?

    Maybe we should blame the Facebook stock not selling great to the lockout also.

    • aboogy123456 - May 18, 2012 at 4:56 PM

      all the series have a back to back. 3 teams sharing the same building would be a reason not to have a back to back. And I do blame the facebook stock on David Stern

      • zacksdad - May 18, 2012 at 5:08 PM

        The Miami vs Indiana series plays May 15th, 17th, 20th, 22nd, 24th, and 26th.
        The Philadelphia vs Boston plays May 12th, 14th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 23rd, and 26th.

        Yet like I said, the Clipper and Lakers who share the building with the LA Kings (Hockey in case you also do not know this) both have back to back games this weekend.

        Now unless my understanding of back to back is wrong or my understanding of dates are wrong, it looks like only the Clippers and Lakers have back to back this round of the series.

    • sal11 - May 18, 2012 at 5:15 PM

      It might also be fair to put some of the blame for the back-to-backs on the fact that both the Clippers and Lakers went 7 games in the first round. Every series in the Eastern Conference was done within 6 games, so their series started earlier, and those teams get a couple of two-day breaks. The poor Spurs and Thunder obliterate their first round opponents and get stuck with back-to-backs because their opponents lollygagged through the first round.

  5. kacapaco - May 18, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    It is not rocket science. It is ‘must win’ game for them, I’d not they have to contact Knicks players about fishing locations.

    • bozosforall - May 18, 2012 at 5:39 PM

      In turn, the Thunder will be contacting the Lakers once the Spurs take them out in the Western Conference finals…on their way to their fifth NBA Championship. All other teams at this point have little chance to stop the team that, so far, has been unstoppable. Just an honest assessment of the reality of the level of play that the Spurs have shown this postseason.

  6. cosanostra71 - May 18, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    I never understood applying the term “must win game” in the playoffs. In my opinion, once you get to the playoffs, every game is a must win.

  7. isujames - May 18, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    The lakers season and hopes of winning another championship was basically over when they learned they would be facing the thunder.

  8. lemfax - May 18, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    ONLY This time I disagree with the tech foul committed by Mwp

  9. brianbosworthisstonecold - May 19, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    Lakers better win since they’re gettin all the calls. Blakers have no chance.

  10. lemfax - May 19, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    Why you put fisher on Bryant in the 4th qtr???
    Why u did not stay Durant on Bryant in the 4th qtr???

    Nice game despite a lot of bad calls. Anyweiz they are just human and always human:(

  11. lemfax - May 19, 2012 at 1:44 AM

    Why you put fisher on Bryant in the 4th qtr???
    Why u did not stay Durant on Bryant in the 4th qtr???

    Nice game despite a lot of bad calls. Anyweiz they are just human and always human:((

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