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Will OKC Thunder meet Indiana in the NBA Finals?

Thunder visits Pacers on Sunday, in a matchup OKC hopes happens again in June.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: April 12, 2014

— The final Sunday showcase of the NBA regular season is here.

It’s the Oklahoma City Thunder versus the Indiana Pacers, a noon matinee from Bankers Life Fieldhouse that might be a preview of the NBA Finals.

If so, it’ll be the Finals the league fears.

Two small-market teams and seven potential defensive slugfests could deliver disappointingly low television ratings and a series the country struggles to get behind.

None of these things amount to dollars and cents for the NBA.

But the Finals series that the NBA fears is one that the Thunder craves.

Because Oklahoma City matches up incredibly well with Indiana, because the Thunder has a history of success against the Pacers and because anyone that emerges from the East that doesn’t hail from South Beach would be a welcome sight for the Thunder.

Both clubs, however, have bumpy roads to the Finals.

The Thunder must navigate the brutal waters of the Western Conference, while the Pacers currently appear to be a lost bunch, losing nine of their past 15 while searching to regain their once-impressive identity.

Remember, though, that for a time these two were the best teams in basketball and seemed stuck on a course to collide in June. Now, the Thunder can only hope Sunday’s meeting isn’t the final showdown.

Oklahoma City has won three straight against Indiana and five of the past six meetings. The Thunder’s past five victories against the Pacers have come by an average margin of 17 points.

The Pacers’ biggest advantage against most, their size, is neutralized by the Thunder’s trees up front and altogether negated by the Thunder’s athleticism.

Kendrick Perkins is tailor-made for Roy Hibbert at the center position. Serge Ibaka contends well with David West at power forward. Kevin Durant, who averages more points (30.6) against the Pacers than any other opponent, has owned Paul George in the small forward matchup. Thabo Sefolosha is a stopper for Most Improved Player candidate Lance Stephenson at shooting guard. And Russell Westbrook runs circles around Pacers point guard George Hill.

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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...
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