â€œWe always had good crowds for those games,â€ Collison said. â€œI think in those cities the fans really feel it because they have more history than the players do.â€
So does the Thunder and Oklahoma City need a rival?
Having one could boost fan interest even further and turn regular season games against a particular opponent into playoff-like atmospheres. But the Thunder hasn't had an issue with interest. OKC has sold out 13 of its 16 home games this season.
Collison, though, admitted rivalries are equally fun for the players. But of the Thunder's nine-man rotation, six players have less than four years of experience.
â€œThese guys are so new to the league.â€ Brooks said, â€œThey just want to get better and play basketball.â€
Someday, a real rival will reveal itself, whether its Nowitzki's Mavs or Deron Williams' Utah Jazz.
â€œWe haven't been around long enough, and we haven't had enough battles,â€ Collison said. â€œHopefully with a few more playoff runs there will be that team that we continue to run into.â€
That day might not be far off.
If the playoffs started today, the Thunder's opening round draw would be the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers â€” the same team that ousted OKC from its first-ever playoff appearance in the first round last spring.
Wouldn't be a bad rival.
MORE FROM NEWSOK
Thunder vs. Mavericks
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Oklahoma City Arena.
TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722)
Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
Dallas has won 16 of its past 17 games.
The Mavs defeated the Thunder, 111-103, on Nov. 24 inside Oklahoma City Arena.
Dallas is a league-best 10-1 on the road. The Mavs' lone road loss was a two-point defeat to New Orleans on Nov. 17.
Pos., Player, Ht., Pts., Reb., Ast
G, Russell Westbrook, 6-3, 22.7, 4.9, 8.1
G, Thabo Sefolosha, 6-7, 6.3, 5.4, 1.6
F, Kevin Durant, 6-9, 28.1, 6.6, 3.1
F, Jeff Green, 6-9, 16.8, 6.1, 2.2
C, Nenad Krstic, 7-0, 7.8, 4.7, 0.4
G, Jason Kidd, 6-4, 7.9, 4.3, 8.8
G, DeShawn Stevenson, 6-5, 5.7, 1.2, 1.2
F, Caron Butler, 6-7, 14.6, 4.2, 1.7
F, Dirk Nowitzki, 7-0, 24.5, 7.6, 2.4
C, Tyson Chandler, 7-1, 8.8, 9.0, 0.4