Is Durant becoming a more effective defender on LeBron?
To start the game in Miami, we got plenty of Durant on LeBron. And more than ever, Durant seemed to hold his own. He forced LeBron into a couple tough shots, even stayed strong with him on a post move. The sample size remains small and LeBron, like Durant, is still nearly unguardable one-on-one. But Durant, as an improved and lanky defender, might be the Thunder’s best option. If he avoids foul trouble, we could get a bigger taste of that on Thursday. Should be fun.
How important could Perry Jones be?
Perry Jones was built to play against teams like the Miami Heat. He’s a low-maintenance floor-spacer, who will sit in the corner and patiently wait to fire up a high-percentage open three. And on defense, he’s a 6-foot-11 wing with lateral quickness and probably the Thunder’s best non-Durant skill set to at least slow LeBron. That’s why he got 30 minutes in Miami. And that’s why he’ll probably get another extended run on Thursday. Let’s see what he does with it.
What about the two recovering stars?
Russell Westbrook is a game-time decision, and Dwyane Wade has essentially been one for the past two years. So assuming both these vital cogs play, how will they look? That’ll be the story of the game. From a Thunder perspective, it’s a win-win. If Westbrook plays well, ‘Hey, great, he’s back’. If he doesn’t, it can be attributed to rust. For Wade, it’s some of the same. But in this matchup, now or in June, Miami will need an at least somewhat vintage Wade to beat OKC. Does he have enough gas left?