Share “Oklahoma City Thunder: Breaking down the...”

Oklahoma City Thunder: Breaking down the Thunder-Spurs matchups

Darnell Mayberry takes a closer look at the matchups for the Western Conference Finals.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 17, 2014
Advertisement

POINT GUARD

RUSSELL WESTBROOK VS. TONY PARKER

ANALYSIS: Mike Conley? Check. Chris Paul? Check. Parker? Been there done that. Westbrook already has eliminated two of the game’s elite point guards in this playoff run, and this rematch of the 2012 Western Conference Finals brings another opportunity for him to again show up a premier playmaker in Parker on the postseason stage. If he is again successful, Westbrook will continue his unstoppable march toward best-point-guard-in-the-league status. The last time these two squared off on this stage, Parker was clearly the better player. This time, Westbrook is playing the best ball of his career and Parker enters the series nursing a hamstring injury.

EDGE: Westbrook.

SHOOTING GUARD

THABO SEFOLOSHA VS. DANNY GREEN

ANALYSIS: Green is a marksman who has shot at least 41 percent from 3-point range in each of the past three seasons. He doesn’t do much else offensively outside of long-range shooting, but he is an emerging defender who at times can downright disrupt a team’s offense. Sefolosha is supposed to be the same type of player. But he’s been streaky to say the least as a shooter, and his defense has been spotty all season. The Thunder will need both to be on point to have a chance to come out of this series.

EDGE: Green.

SMALL FORWARD

KEVIN DURANT VS. KAWHI LEONARD

ANALYSIS: Durant hasn’t had his best postseason, and now Leonard looms as a pest who’s had some success against Durant in the past. Leonard has a history of using his length and athleticism to force Durant into being a volume scorer who must shoot from farther out. Leonard’s defense also has led to Durant turning it over at a higher rate against San Antonio. So this should be a quality matchup, perhaps better than most would anticipate. Leonard had a career year and is showing steady improvement throughout this postseason. But Durant was the MVP for a reason.

EDGE: Durant.

POWER FORWARD

NICK COLLISON VS. TIAGO SPLITTER

ANALYSIS: We’re assuming Collison gets the start here for the injured Serge Ibaka. Thunder coach Scott Brooks has several options for this spot, including playing small and moving Durant to power forward. But Collison’s experience is likely to give him the edge. Don’t rule out Perry Jones III, though. He started the one game Ibaka missed in the regular season, and in addition to offering more versatility his presence in the starting lineup could allow the Thunder to keep its bench rotation intact. No matter which direction the Thunder goes in, the replacement should be able to handle Splitter. This position in this series is all about what the Thunder loses on defense by not having Ibaka available.

EDGE: Splitter.

CENTER

KENDRICK PERKINS VS. TIM DUNCAN

ANALYSIS: Duncan is proving he isn’t done yet, averaging 16.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, two assists and 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes this postseason. He’s shot 53 percent in the playoffs, up from 49 percent in the regular season. Perkins, on the other hand, has had arguably his best postseason in a Thunder uniform. He’s scoring more efficiently, rebounding more consistently and turning it over at a lower rate. Of course, he’s supplied some excellent defense as well. And if he can do the same against Duncan, Perkins can go a long way in limiting one of San Antonio’s numerous weapons.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
+ show more


Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Republicans warm to Loretta Lynch
  2. 2
    West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett to retire from football
  3. 3
    Justin Gilbert says he's learned from teammates' criticism
  4. 4
    Iran expands 'smart' Internet censorship
  5. 5
    Anti-De Blasio banner seen above Hudson River
+ show more