HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — Don’t let the designer Poindexter glasses fool you. Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook see just fine.
They can see through the playoff matrix already, just three trips into the postseason in their young careers.
Clearly, the Thunder do not plan on waiting their turn. They also won’t be deferring to their elders, as their 95-79 Game 3 destruction of the defending champion Mavericks Thursday night at American Airlines Center serves as proof.
Durant’s shooting touch came back — he had 15 points 12 minutes in — was 8-for-10 and had 21 points by halftime and finished with a game-high 31 points. Westbrook did as he pleased and the Mavericks still do not have anyone on the roster capable of shutting him down. And the Thunder, from Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison up front to James Harden, Derek Fisher and Thabo Sefolosha in the backcourt, are proving that they are the deeper, stronger, more resilient and a just plain better team.
“We wanted to focus on being solid, keeping it simple, hit singles and not home runs and I thought we did that,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “That’s important, because sometimes we get a little excited. And that’s good, because they are very excitable. But when we talk about playing our basketball and improving everyday, we have to think simple. Sometimes it’s challenging to coach simple with our guys but it’s important to focus on that.”
A 3-0 hole in a playoff series is the ticket for any team to get off the postseason ride, even the defending champs. The Mavericks know this better than anyone, having handed the same ticket to the Lakers last year in the Western Conference semifinals.
Now here they are, 48 minutes away from the same fate.