How Thunder will defend Heat

OKC has learned Thabo Sefolosha must be key to defensive strategy

Updated: June 11, 2012, 12:00 PM ET
By Neil Paine | Basketball-Reference.com
Kevin DurantTom Pennington/Getty ImagesDurant need only slow down James, but Sefolosha must blanket Wade.

After a pair of early losses to the seemingly unstoppable San Antonio Spurs, the Oklahoma City Thunder roared back with four consecutive wins to close out the Western Conference finals and punch a ticket to the NBA Finals, where they'll face the two-time defending East champion Miami Heat.

To turn around their season, the Thunder made an important adjustment against San Antonio -- but how will they be able to apply the lesson they learned against the Spurs when they take on the Heat?

Key move

Perhaps the key coaching move of the Western Conference finals was Scott Brooks' decision to cross-match Thabo Sefolosha onto Tony Parker defensively. Parker had ripped the Thunder defense for 123.9 points per 100 possessions during the Spurs' victories in Games 1 and 2, shooting 62.5 percent on 2-pointers (including 60 percent from midrange).

Neil Paine writes for FiveThirtyEight, the data-supported sports, politics and culture site coming soon from ESPN.