OKC Thunder-Miami Heat: Breaking down the matchups

Darnell Mayberry breaks down each of the matchups for Sunday's game, including the intriguing Kevin Durant-LeBron James matchup.
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Published: March 24, 2012

A look at the matchups between the Thunder and Heat.

Russell Westbrook vs. Mario Chalmers

Analysis: Chalmers is a solid defender and a superb 3-point shooting threat. He isn't asked to do much alongside the Heat's big three, but he has a knack for coming up with steals and knocking down big shots. Westbrook, however, has the size, speed and strength to potentially take Chalmers completely out of the game. The key for Westbrook will be keeping his composure, maintaining trust in his teammates and the system and playing under control. If Westbrook continues to do those things, like he's done in the previous two games, he'll have a chance to dominate his matchup.

Edge: Westbrook.

Thabo Sefolosha vs. Dwyane Wade

Analysis: Wade's point production is at its lowest since his rookie year, but don't be fooled by his scoring average. A part of that is due to Wade averaging a career-low 33 minutes, in addition to some nagging injuries. But he's still very efficient, connecting on a career-high 50.5 percent from the field and 80.1 percent from the foul line. And Wade still can take over a game like only a few can. It hurts the Thunder that Sefolosha is being limited to around 20 minutes as he continues to recover from a foot injury. If Sefolosha doesn't play big minutes, Wade could be the biggest key to the game.

Edge: Wade.

Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James

Analysis: Three years ago, LeBron James looked like a guy toying with his little brother in the backyard whenever he faced Durant. Today, the gap has been narrowed and the matchup is now arguably the league's most riveting every time the two step on the floor. The truth is neither can defend the other at this point, so buckle in for a scintillating showdown. But the all-around gifts James has still far exceed Durant's natural scoring ability when it comes to dominating a game. James is running away in the MVP race, putting together one of the most efficient seasons in NBA history while leading his team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, field-goal percentage and free throw attempts.

Edge: James.

Serge Ibaka vs. Chris Bosh

Analysis: One is a defensive-oriented power forward. The other is offensive-minded. When they hook up, it will be an intriguing matchup of contrasting styles. Bosh is clearly the better player, but Ibaka is a game-changer defensively. The question is whether Ibaka will cover Bosh. The Thunder has wisely allowed Ibaka to cover the weaker of the two opposing post players so he can roam and block shots. If that's the case, Ibaka will have much more success in this game. In a cross-matchup, Bosh also could struggle with Kendrick Perkins' physicality. But Bosh could take both Ibaka and Perk out to the perimeter and exploit them. Keep an eye on this one.

Edge: Bosh.

Kendrick Perkins vs. Joel Anthony



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