The Oklahoma City-Denver matchups

By John Rohde, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: April 15, 2011

THE MATCHUPS

(In order of importance)

SMALL FORWARD

Kevin Durant vs. Danilo Gallinari

* Analysis: Though playoff games become more of a half-court game, a gaggle of points could still come from this position on both sides. Gallinari has shot 37.0 percent from 3-point range since coming over from the Knicks. Durant is fresh off winning his second straight NBA scoring title and also found time to average 6.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 steals. Both are looking to step up.

* Edge: Thunder

POINT GUARD

Russell Westbrook vs. Ty Lawson

* Analysis: Lawson pretty much did as he pleased against the Thunder the first three meetings this season, but had five points, six assists, six turnovers and took just four shots from the field in 30 minutes during the last encounter. Maybe the Thunder figured out how to slow down this jet. Meanwhile, does Denver have any idea what to do about Westbrook (20.5 ppg; 7.0 apg; 3.0 spg)?

* Edge: Thunder

CENTER

Kendrick Perkins vs. Nene Hilario

* Analysis: Nene averaged 15.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and shot 60 percent against OKC this season. The newly acquired Perkins has been in the league eight seasons and is only 26 years old, but his scarred knees are closer to 46. Nene owns a huge advantage in transition. If this were a bar-room brawl, I'd take Perkins. But if the refs allow some basketball to be played, Nene gets the nod.

* Edge: Nuggets

POWER FORWARD

Serge Ibaka vs. Kenyon Martin

* Analysis: The 33-year-old Martin has 82 starts in 84 playoff games with career postseason averages of 15.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks. Ibaka, who is 12 years younger, has mad skills and is emerging as one of the league's young stars. Martin deserves to be given the edge in this matchup, but Ibaka has been on a tear since the All-Star break (10.8 ppg; 8.8 rpg; 3.0 bpg).

* Edge: Thunder

SHOOTING GUARD

Thabo Sefolosha vs. Arron Afflalo

* Analysis: Anything Sefolosha gives the Thunder offensively is a bonus, but Afflalo is a key component in the Nuggets' offensive attack. Afflalo, who has been battling a hamstring injury, is a far better shooter than people realize – 49.8 percent from the field; 42.3 percent on 3-pointers. The key at this spot is containing your opponent, and there is no doubt Afflalo is a far more explosive threat.

* Edge: Nuggets

COACH

Scott Brooks vs. George Karl



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