Still, Brooks is relying on Perkins just as much — and in some cases more — as more effective options Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison. In Games 1 and 3, Perkins played more than Collison, whose defense on Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki has been outstanding. But Brooks seems determined to stick with what's gotten his team this far and make the Mavs adjust rather than utilizing units that have done a number on Dallas.
Collison at power forward, for example, can slow down Nowitzki while Ibaka, if deployed at center, can match up better with Chandler's athleticism and supply weak side help and his game-changing shot blocking. With Ibaka spending much of his time trying to defend Nowitzki, though, Ibaka's shot blocking has plummeted, from 4.8 swats per game in the first round to just one a night in this conference final.
Another option is playing small in spurts and putting Kevin Durant at power forward and Collison at center. Though it leaves the Thunder at risk of losing rebounds, Durant could guard Chandler or Brendan Haywood, both nonthreatening offensive players, while Collison continues battling Nowitzki. It would allow another scorer such as James Harden or Daequan Cook to space the floor.
The Thunder has had success offensively playing small ball. But Brooks only uses it as a last-ditch option.
“I like to play big. I don't like to play small,” Brooks said. “The only time we play small is if we're down. That's not something I go into the game hoping, to play small. That means we're down 10 or 12 points and we have to generate points quickly.”
With Perkins, though, the Thunder isn't producing enough points or stops.
Not against this matchup. Not against these Mavericks.