The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers will face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs after a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday locked the Thunder into the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
"I love what Oklahoma is doing and how well they're playing," Kobe Bryant said last week after the Lakers shootaround in Denver. "This is a young team that everybody is kind of sitting around and saying, 'OK, they're playing well but eventually they're going to fall off, eventually,' and they don't. They just keep going … This is a serious team."
The Lakers are 3-1 against the Thunder this season.
Los Angeles enters the postseason with some injury concerns. The team announced Monday that Kobe Bryant will sit out of the final two games of the regular season with an avulsion fracture in his right index finger.
The Lakers are also hoping to have center Andrew Bynum back. He's missed the past 11 games with a strained left Achilles tendon, but says he plans to return for the first game of the playoffs.