Can the Los Angeles Lakers Win the Series?

It took the full extent of Kobe Bryant's savvy, the Lakers role players' contributions and an early (and squandered) double-digit lead for the Los Angeles Lakers to fend off the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 3. But now that the Lakers officially have a win to their name in this series, it's worth stepping back to analyze their chances going forward.

That it's worth stepping back, unfortunately, doesn't mean that the circumstances have necessarily changed. Although L.A. did an effective job of defending their home court with a fourth-quarter free-throw march, it's relatively clear that the Thunder still hold the upper hand.

OKC's offense is still more difficult to halt, their defense is still more disruptive and their rare combination of top-heavy talent and role-player depth would give them the upper hand against almost any opponent. None of that has changed, even with Los Angeles taking a favorable result in Game 3.

The Lakers are a good team, but ultimately lack that fundamental factor that would put them over the top in a series such as this one; were Bryant half a decade younger and the bench a bit deeper, we'd be looking at a more compelling contest.

But as it stands, the Lakers are a mere obstacle in the Thunder's path, and though the games thus far have each been entertaining in their own ways, we need not pretend that this 2-1 series is so drastically different than it would have been at 3-0. 

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