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.