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Thunder would have to like a Finals matchup against the Pacers

The postseason remains months away, but Oklahoma City showed Sunday it can play against the best the Eastern Conference has to offer.
by Jenni Carlson Published: December 8, 2013

Reggie Jackson dribbled the ball in the backcourt as the final seconds of Sunday's game ticked down, and even as the shot clock neared zero, his feet stayed planted to The Peake's hardwood.

The Thunder took a turnover on a shot-clock violation.

Didn't want to pile on too much.

Thunder 118, Pacers 94.

A game that was supposed to be a thriller was a blowout instead. An early season matchup that has a shot of being be an NBA Finals preview was all boys in blue.

Who saw this coming?

“It's a good win,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks acknowledged.

But ...

Brooks was quick to point out that Sunday was Indiana's fifth game on a five-game western swing, and it was the second night of a back-to-back. The first of those two games was an energy-sapping, big-time win at San Antonio.

So, these Pacers came to town with their tanks a little closer to E than F.

Still, they had lost only two games this season. This is a stout squad.

And the Thunder won going away.

If the Pacers can do what some folks think they can do and beat the Heat in the playoffs, this has to be a Finals pairing that the Thunder would like.

This is a good matchup for the Thunder.

For starters, the Thunder has defensive answers for the Pacers, starting with Thabo Sefolosha on Paul George and Kendrick Perkins on Roy Hibbert. Those two Pacers are key for Indiana's offense, and Sunday night, Sefolosha and Perkins showed that they can hang with them.

On the Pacers' first shot of the game, Hibbert clanked a 15-foot turnaround, and Perk made it a tough look with a hand up.

On the Pacers' next shot, George missed a 17-foot step-back jumper, and Sefolosha was in the neighborhood hounding.

That was a sign of things to come as George and Hibbert ended the first quarter a combined 5 of 11. Not bad, but definitely not the hot start that either of them is capable of getting off to.

What's more, the Pacers fell behind by double digits in that first quarter and never recovered.

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by Jenni Carlson
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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