I figured this was too long for a series of tweets, so it goes up as a post.
The Iguodala-Durant matchup will receive the bulk of attention from announcers, fans and the press. Two all-stars who play the same position. One is the best perimeter scorer in the NBA. The other is arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA. They will go head-to-head for nearly 40 minutes if all goes well. Durant will score. Iguodala will alter some of his shots. This will happen. And it will
But the focus of this game should be the other contrasts these teams have: scoring distribution, turnovers, free throw shooting, and point guard play. Because these will decide the game.
The Thunder get more scoring from their top 2 than any combo of two players in the NBA. The Sixers share the basketball better than almost anyone, with 5 players averaging double figures that are active, none more than 16 points per game. The Sixers are the league leader in turnovers per game. The Thunder, despite their general awesomeness, average the most (in a tie with the Knicks). And the Thunder make more free throws than anyone (79.6%) and take a ton (over 27 per game, second in the league), while the Sixers take fewer free throws than anyone (18.5) and make only 73.3% of their attempts (22nd in the league).
The most intriguing of these other differences, though, is the point guard matchup. Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday both play in the NBA. They are both young and played in consecutive years in the same role at UCLA (defensive-oriented 2-guard). Both are now starting point guards in the NBA. But that doesn’t mean they are similar players. Jrue Holiday works as a cog in the engine of the Sixers offense, playing a conservative brand of basketball in line with his coach’s wishes. Russell Westbrook, meanwhile, is the cog that fails to fit in the hole, but forces his way in anyway. He’s an aggressive scorer who often takes too many shots for his own good, but the good for Russ far outweighs the bad. He’s a good defender who can defend both guard positions and overpowers many opponents. He lives at the free throw line and in the lane. He’s incredibly effective when playing well, a top 15 player in the league. How well Jrue plays as opposed to Westbrook, his antithesis, I believe will ultimately determine the game.