2014 NBA Playoffs Series Preview: Thunder vs. Clippers

NBA Playoffs 2nd Round Preview: Thunder vs. Clippers

NBA Playoffs 2nd Round Preview: Thunder vs. Clippers
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Both the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers needed seven games to get out of the first round. Now, both teams are looking like strong candidates to make it to the Finals out of the Western Conference. Let’s see how the two teams match up with one another heading into their second-round series.

PG Matchup: Russell Westbrook vs. Chris Paul

PG Matchup: Russell Westbrook vs. Chris Paul
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PG Matchup: Russell Westbrook vs. Chris Paul

PG Matchup: Russell Westbrook vs. Chris Paul
Kirby Lee - USA Today Sports Images

This is a titanic matchup at the point guard position between two of the best in the league at the position. What’ll be interesting to watch is to see who can control the pace and if Paul can be physical enough to match the aggressiveness and physicality of Westbrook. Only slightly, I give the edge to Westbrook head-to-head.

SG Matchup: Thabo Sefolosha vs. J.J. Redick

SG Matchup: Thabo Sefolosha vs. J.J. Redick
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SG Matchup: Thabo Sefolosha vs. J.J. Redick

SG Matchup: Thabo Sefolosha vs. J.J. Redick
Mark D. Smith - USA Today Sports Images

Sefolosha certainly isn’t going to be able to match the offensive production of Redick in this series, but his defense is going to be more of a factor than Redick’s. Even with Thabo’s defense, though, Redick gets the slight edge in the one-on-one matchup.

SF Matchup: Kevin Durant vs. Matt Barnes

SF Matchup: Kevin Durant vs. Matt Barnes
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SF Matchup: Kevin Durant vs. Matt Barnes

SF Matchup: Kevin Durant vs. Matt Barnes
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One of these two is going to be named the MVP of the league this week. The other of the two is someone who I wouldn’t trust to take a big shot ever in my life. The first is not Matt Barnes.

PF Matchup: Serge Ibaka vs. Blake Griffin

PF Matchup: Serge Ibaka vs. Blake Griffin
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PF Matchup: Serge Ibaka vs. Blake Griffin

PF Matchup: Serge Ibaka vs. Blake Griffin
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This matchup could be key in the series, particularly to see how Griffin can work against an athletic shot-blocker like Ibaka. Griffin has to be better in this series than he was against Golden State, but I still think he holds the edge over the Thunder power forward.

C Matchup: Kendrick Perkins vs. DeAndre Jordan

C Matchup: Kendrick Perkins vs. DeAndre Jordan
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C Matchup: Kendrick Perkins vs. DeAndre Jordan

C Matchup: Kendrick Perkins vs. DeAndre Jordan
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Kendrick Perkins didn’t magically get better at basketball and DeAndre Jordan is having the best year of his life. It’ll be interesting to see how the Thunder combat the big men of the Clippers and how much they can afford to actually keep Perk on the floor against two frontcourt players of that caliber of athleticism.

Bench Matchup

Bench Matchup
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Bench Matchup

Bench Matchup
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While I think Reggie Jackson is vastly underrated and could be an x-factor in this series, I love the weapons that the Clips can bring in as reserves. Led by Jamal Crawford—the Sixth Man of the Year—L.A. definitely has the edge when the two teams dip into their respective benches.

Coaching Matchup: Scott Brooks vs. Doc Rivers

Coaching Matchup: Scott Brooks vs. Doc Rivers
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Coaching Matchup: Scott Brooks vs. Doc Rivers

Coaching Matchup: Scott Brooks vs. Doc Rivers
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Other than Durant and Barnes, this is the biggest mismatch on the floor. Scott Brooks’ coaching and play-calling has been brought into question time and again and Doc Rivers is one of the best in the business with the clipboard in-hand. The Clippers’ head man can definitely gain an advantage in this regard.

Series Notes

Series Notes
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Series Notes

Series Notes
Mark D. Smith - USA Today Sports Images

The teams split their regular season series at 2-2. What’ll be intriguing is to see if there are any lingering effects of the Donald Sterling situation following the Clippers and what any upcoming decisions will do to this team either positively or negatively.

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