Kendrick Perkins has played 68 NBA playoff games.
Thirteen against Dwight Howard and the Magic. Thirteen against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Eleven against Pau Gasol and the Lakers. Seven in that epic 2009 series against Chicago that included four overtime games and seven overtime periods.
Sixty-eight playoff games are more than Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, James Harden, Thabo Sefolosha, Eric Maynor and Nick Collison combined.
On the same February day Perkins became a Boomer, so did Nazr Mohammed, who arrived from Charlotte with 44 playoff games.
Perkins and Mohammed brought something else. NBA championship rings.
The NBA playoffs are a dues-paying enterprise. Extensive experience required for success.
But did the Thunder cut in line with the mid-season trades that brought these lords of the rings? Did the Thunder land on space 28 in Chutes & Ladders and jump all the way to 84?
Did the blue-collar, hard-hatted Perkins bring more than a scowl that would scare a werewolf and defense that protects the basket the way the Secret Service protects the president?
Did the Thunder trade for sweat equity? Is the Thunder now fully vested in the hunt for the O'Brien Trophy?
The Thunder begins its 2011 playoff odyssey Sunday night against the Nuggets. Many are picking Oklahoma City to contend in the Western Conference, even though the Baby Boomers are playoff novices.
Can the playoff experience of Perkins, a starting center for the 2008 champion Celtics, and Mohammed, starting center for the 2005 champion Spurs, rub off on their new teammates?
“It can help the whole team,” said Mohammed. “We can share our experiences.”
No NBA champion since the '77 TrailBlazers has won with little previous playoff experience.
But why? We all can agree that playoff experience matters. But what exactly is it? What does experience provide? How can we see it manifested?
“It's paying close attention to little detail things,” Perkins said. “Not taking possessions off.
“Having playoff experience, you've been in every situation they can throw at you.
“Get in the playoffs, every possession counts.”
Playoff games are different. They're nothing like a December game in Toronto or a January game against the Timberwolves.
“The whole (playoff) game is like the last two minutes of a regular-season game,” Mohammed said.
Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles agreed.
“It's a different level,” Skiles said. “There's more intensity, more focus on every possession. When there's 82 games, even with a winning team, you have a stretch on a Thursday night where you're sloppy, you can address it, correct it.
“In Game 2 or Game 3 of the playoffs, it's a huge deal, just for players to understand you gotta be playing your best basketball. It's a two-week span where you either extend your season or go home.”
It's like the old Eddie Sutton line about mistakes late in the game being magnified, because there's no time to recover. Same with the playoffs.
“Guys that have experience know how intense it is,” said the Thunder's Royal Ivey, who has played nine playoff games in his career. “The intensity goes up 100 fold.”
The wise veteran — Perkins and Mohammed more than qualify — know the trade secrets. Getting lots of rest. Focusing on gameplans and in-game huddles, since playoff opponents can know everything there is to know about each other.
But while Perkins and Mohammed can help tremendously, they can't compensate for lack of experience in perhaps the most vital area.
Decision-making under fire by the guys with the ball.
Perkins and Mohammed can't teach Westbrook and Durant how to handle the playoff pressure.
Most Thunder possessions start and/or end with the 21-year-old Westbrook or the 22-year-old Durant or both.
So in Game 3 of a series tied 1-1, Thunder on the road, leading by eight in the third quarter, and the foe sinks a 3-pointer, then gets a steal and layup, and momentum has shifted, this can't be like a February game against the Wizards.
You can't jack up a 3-pointer on a whim. Can't barrel into the lane and hope the ref blows the whistle your way. At that point in a playoff game, a good shot — a really good shot — is mandatory.
It's recognition of the moment. Players like Chauncey Billups and Derek Fisher and Ray Allen have it. Players like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant have to learn it, and they have to learn it the hard way.
Now, maybe Durant is so good, so talented, and maybe Westbrook is so tough, such an alley fighter, that they can play their way past such a learning curve.
But Perkins and Mohammed can't help in those situations.
They can play big-boy defense and grab crucial rebounds and show by the looks on their face that it's time to get serious, but they can't will wisdom on Durant and Westbrook.
The Thunder still has some dues to pay.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.