Thursday, May 3, 2012
Young Thunder not concerned by close calls
By Jeff Caplan
DALLAS -- The young and athletically gifted Oklahoma City Thunder lead the old-and-slow Dallas Mavericks 2-zip in this best-of-7 series, but it's not as if these baby ballers have stomped their Nikes on the throats of the Geritol gang.
Derek Harper explains what the Mavs need to do in order to climb out of their 2-0 series hole against the Thunder.
"At this level and this time of the year, age, I think, it is also a plus. Experience is definitely something that counts," said Thunder shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha, a virtual old-timer on this squad at age 28. "But at the same time we want to pick the pace up and keep running, getting some stops and getting some easy baskets."
As the series shifts to the American Airlines Center for tonight's Game 3, the Mavs will seek a bit of karma-turning luck. In Game 1, Kevin Durant hit a 15-foot, off-balance shot over Shawn Marion to win it with 1.4 seconds to go. In Game 2, the Mavs rallied from a 16-point hole in the second quarter, but couldn't complete the comeback when Dirk Nowitzki's baseline jumper bounced around the rim and off.
The No. 2 seed Thunder could easily have found themselves in a hole as they hit the road, but coach Scott Brooks said he's not concerned that that his team, whose four best players are under the age of 24, wasn't more dominant on its home floor and in front of one of the loudest crowds in the league.
"We don't look at them as old guys. We're looking at them as a very good team, the defending champions," Brooks said. "I don't know how many guys they have from their championship team, but I know they've got their top four or five guys -- you have Dirk (Nowitzki), you have Jason (Kidd), (Jason) Terry, Shawn Marion, (Brendan) Haywood -- and that's a good basketball team. I don't look at them as a seventh seed, I look at them as the defending champs that are going to continue to fight.
"Every game has been down to the last couple of minutes and I expect that to happen the rest of the series."