Members of the Thunder and Mavericks said Tuesday they are not concerned that the physicality of their playoff series will continue to escalate.
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins and Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki were each assessed a technical after a brief shoving incident in the first quarter of OKC's 102-99 victory Monday night in Game 2, which featured 71 free throws and 54 fouls.
“It's stuff that happens, but I don't think anybody really takes it too seriously,” Thunder forward Nick Collison said. “It's just kind of on the outside (with fans). We've all seen NBA games. It seems like it happens once a game, even in the regular season. It's not really a big deal. We don't give it much of a thought.
“I think it is important that we try to control emotions so that something doesn't happen like what happened with (Boston's Rajon) Rondo (who bumped an official and received a one-game suspension), where you miss a game. Those things happen, where guys are really emotional. So it is important to try to avoid something that's really going to affect the series. But overall, I think most of that stuff is under control and it's not too big of an issue.”
Two possessions before the Perkins-Nowitzki incident, Thunder forward Serge Ibaka inadvertently scraped the face of Nowitzki after trying to block his shot. No foul was called, and Nowitzki gave Ibaka a forearm shiver running down court on the ensuing possession.
Asked if Perkins and Ibaka crossed the line, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said: “There are things that are happening out there that can't happen. You can't hit a guy in the face when he shoots a jump shot. Intentional or not intentional, that happened, and that was one of the things that set things in motion there.
“It's playoff basketball. There's going to be chippiness. There's going to be contact. There's going to be hits. We just got to make sure our disposition is where it needs to be. On the other hand, our poise and composure have to be very strong.”
How much more physical could play get from Game 2?
“I'm not sure about that, but it's going to be physical,” Carlisle said. “That's how playoff series get. Generally, they get more physical before they get less physical. That's OK. We've got to have the right kind of disposition. We've got to have the right kind of restraint, composure and poise. We've got to put the ball in the basket, and we've got to do a better job of stopping them.”
Carlisle said his team is moving forward after the back-to-back heartbreaking losses at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“Right now, we've got to win four out of five to win the series. That's our mindset,” Carlisle said. “What's done is done. A playoff series is a major test of perseverance. We've got to overcome a lot of things. We've got to overcome the shot-making they've thrown at us. We've got to overcome some errors in officiating. We've got to overcome being in a situation where we had opportunities to win those two games and came up short. It's got to strengthen our resolve for Game 3.”
Playing at American Airlines Center the next two games also should be beneficial.
“We need a loud building,” Carlisle said. “We need our crowd to be as loud and raucous as their crowd was. That's got to be in the equation for us. And we've got to step it up, and we will. We've got to win two games. That's our job now. They've done it at their place. And now it's our job to hold serve at home.”
GOOD AND BAD
Good news for the Thunder: OKC leads the best-of-seven series 2-0 heading into Game 3 at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday in Dallas.
Bad news for the Thunder: The team hasn't played particularly well.
“We don't feel like we've played great basketball,” Collison said, “but Dallas has had a lot to do with that. They're a really good team, a smart team. A lot of the adjustments we have to make are watching film and trying to just change how we play.”
Here is the remaining best-of-seven series schedule: Game 3 — Thursday at 8:30 p.m., Dallas; Game 4 — Saturday at 6:30 p.m., Dallas; Game 5, if necessary — Monday at 7 p.m., OKC; Game 6, if necessary — May 10 at TBA, Dallas; Game 7, if necessary — May 12 at TBA, OKC.
With severe weather in the OKC area after Game 2, the Mavericks had to get off the team buses, get screened by security, then re-board the buses and wait for the storm to clear out. The team's charter plane had been taken to a hangar on the other side of the airport.
The team arrived at Love Field at 2:35 a.m. on Tuesday, roughly an hour behind schedule.
Four fans were waiting outside the secured area at the airport dressed in Mavericks gear and holding signs and pictures of Nowitzki.
Carlisle, comparing this year's Thunder team to last year's: “They've gotten better. There's no doubt about that. You've got to give them credit for the plays they've made in the series and the year they've had.”
The Dallas Morning News contributed to this report.