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NBA Finals: Thunder, Heat have interchangeable parts

Defensive assignments for both teams can change in a blink. The playground playbook of “take who takes you” apparently will not exist in this series..
By John Rohde Published: June 13, 2012

“Thabo is one of the premier defenders in the league. He has the defensive toughness, he has the mindset to be a great defender, and he does it every possession. He will guard Wade, he will guard LeBron, and at times he will guard their point guard, but I thought he did a great job.

“It's not an easy cover to guard him.”

By “him,” presumably Brooks was referring to James, but perhaps it was Wade.

Does James envision more mix-and-match?

“Yeah, I think so, just because of the depth of teams and both teams have so many guys that can do so many things defensively, that can guard multiple positions defensively,” James said. “It allows both coaches to be flexible. You can see that throughout the course of the series.”

Sefolosha could be assigned to defend three or four Heat players in the series, though not simultaneously.

“It's probably something both teams kind of like, because both teams are so athletic,” Sefolosha said. “I think we can match up pretty much with anything that any team throws at us. We don't try to worry too much about what they're going to do.”

Nick Collison played a huge role off the bench in Game 1 and could have further success, no matter who he defends and vice versa.

“We've got a lot of interchangeable parts, but I think Miami's really similar, too,” Collison said. “When you have guys who are 6-8, 6-9 playing on the perimeter – and athletes like we do with Kevin and they do with LeBron – you can do that. You can play those guys on bigs or on guards.”

Also thrown into the equation is fatigue and the lateness of the shot clock, which often results in more switches, which was the case with Miami on Tuesday night.

“We're an aggressive, disruptive defensive team,” Spoelstra said. “Now, I don't mind it (switching) at times. We can be very disruptive when we switch, as well, but it flattened out some of our aggressiveness, which makes us unique. So regardless, (Tuesday) night was not decided by schematics. It was decided by force. It was decided by will. It was decided by energy.

“Both these teams have that ability. They imposed that on us (Tuesday) night, and that's the reality. Everything else was probably everything in between.”

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