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Thunder Vs. Lakers Predictions: 13 Of 14 ESPN Experts Pick Oklahoma City Over Los Angeles

Perhaps it’s the rest. Maybe it’s how they dominated the defending NBA champs. Maybe it’s the trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. No matter what reasons they cite, one thing is clear: the experts, by and large, believe that the Oklahoma City Thunder will defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.

ESPN’s recent panel of experts came out with 13 of 14 of them predicting the Thunder over the Lakers. That’s pretty much the same across the board with most NBA analysts calling now as the time for the baton to pass between the two teams. The last time the two met in 2010, the case was different. But Durant has established his greatness at the pro level and others around him have matured.

Still the drama will be there between Harden and Metta World Peace. It’s hard to count Kobe Bryant out of anything at this point, and Andrew Bynum has been an incredible force at times. It will be a fun series to watch, but if the Thunder aren’t standing at the end, it will be a big surprise.