The Thunder's combined closeout games have been decided by 11.8 points, a figure that doesn't illustrate how close closeout contest are. Perkins' former Boston Celtics bullied opponents in six of those closeout games by 27, 34, 40, 19, 21 and 22 points, respectively.
You also can't overlook the fact that the Thunder is playing in Denver. Perkins' former coach, Doc Rivers, was 1-11 in closeout games on the road before the Celtics put the finishing touches on a sweep of the Knicks in New York on Sunday. Nuggets fans are expected to be twice as loud and animated as they were Saturday night in Game 3, and a building in which Denver went 33-8 during the regular season could seemingly feel impossible to do anything right in tonight.
“They're going to give everything they have,” Collison said. “I'm sure the building will support them in that. So it will be extremely difficult.”
The Thunder will attempt to stay focused on the little things tonight, as it has all season. It sounds simple, but ball movement on offense and making Nuggets players take shots with hands in their faces and against set defenses is what OKC thinks will pave the way to a win.
“If we try to focus on that or a bigger story than just playing basketball, I think it'll hurt us,” Collison said. “So we want to just focus on the things that have given us success.”
Perkins, more than any other Thunder player, knows the importance of urgency. He's seen closeout games get away, and he understands how critical it is to close out Denver as quickly as possible.
“When you have a team down, you just have to apply the pressure and keep your foot on their throat,” Perkins said. “So you got to come out with the mindset that you're going to come out and not give them any hope.”