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Thunder should let LeBron James go for broke

Put Kevin Durant or whomever you like on James. They'll do a good job, he'll score 28 or 30 points, and that's just how it's going to go. Then, concentrate the defensive effort on LeBron's teammates. Those are the guys, after all, who have made the difference against the Thunder.
by Jenni Carlson Published: February 13, 2013
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If LeBron is going to get his — and it sure looks like he will — the first thing that the Thunder has to do is keep Wade and Bosh from scoring as much.

That's asking a lot, of course. These two guys are All-Stars and Olympians. Count them among the best players in the world.

Still, the Thunder has better defensive matchups for Wade and Bosh than it does for LeBron. Focus on that. Play to your strong suit. Sic Thabo Sefolosha on Wade and Serge Ibaka on Bosh, and let two of your best defenders go to work.

But wait, there's more.

The thing that has killed the Thunder of late against the Heat is a career performance from a guy not named James, Wade or Bosh.

In Game 2 of The Finals, Shane Battier had 17 points.

In Game 4, Mario Chalmers had 25.

In Game 5, Mike Miller had 23.

On Christmas Day earlier this season, Chalmers had 20.

The Thunder has to figure out a way to end that madness. Those are good players, but those performances rank among their best. I mean, Chalmers has more zero-point games this season (three) than 20-point games (two).

Think of it this way: if Chalmers scores his usual seven or eight points on Christmas, the Thunder wins by a couple possessions.

I know the temptation is there to help on LeBron. I get it. When he starts dribbling and gets going toward the basket, everyone wants to step in and try to stop the freight train. But that's when the rest of the Heat will kill you. They wait for the defense to sag off, they let LeBron pass to them, then they have open shots.

Want to throw off the Heat, Scott Brooks? Want to take a different approach against the best player on the planet at a time he's playing better than ever before?

Want to do something crazy that just might work?

Let LeBron get his.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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