Brooks said he hasn't mentioned the final three games of last year's series with the Mavs to his team in the days leading up to Saturday's Game 1. But in all three of the final contest, offense doomed the Thunder big time and ultimately led to the Thunder's unceremonious exit.
Nonetheless, Brooks sounds confident that his team has turned the corner.
“Offensively, overall, those numbers have improved,” Brooks said. “We're third in the league in scoring and we're third in the league in field-goal percentage. When I look at fourth-quarter offense, we have to get good shots. It's always difficult to get good shots because everybody ratchets up their defense. We just have to focus on executing our play and getting a good shot. That's all we look at.”
When dry spells did plague the Thunder this season, the common refrain by Brooks and players was shots simply didn't fall. Very rarely did anyone express disappointment in a lack of execution.
But what will the Thunder do now if ever the shots continue to rim out?
“I think we continue to do the things that we were doing to get those good looks at the basket,” Fisher said. “But I think…probably what we'll find ourselves experiencing in the playoffs is that defensively we have to continue to get stops. Even if the shots aren't going in, we have to continue to get stops on the defensive end.”
The Thunder, Fisher said, can't compound the problem.
“Sometimes shots don't go in,” Fisher said. “You get great looks, they just don't go in. But we're talented enough, athletic enough, smart enough to defend and rebound and force teams to get frustrated on their offensive end as well and win games with our defense.”
MORE FROM NEWSOK
A look back at how offensive droughts knocked Oklahoma City out of the playoffs, with the Thunder's inability to score causing it to blow big leads late in the final two games of last year's Western Conference Finals.
GAME 3: MAY 21, 2011
THE RUN: In the first 14 minutes, the Thunder was outscored 35-12. Oklahoma City made just 4-of-20 shots over that span and turned it over eight times.
THE STAT: The Thunder didn't score on consecutive possessions until the 8:59 mark of the second quarter. By then, OKC had already fallen behind by as many as 23.
THE RESULT: Mavs, 93-87.
GAME 4: MAY 23, 2011
THE RUN: In the game's final 10 minutes, 6 seconds, the Thunder was outscored 28-6. The Thunder took a commanding 99-84 lead with 5:06 remaining in regulation.
THE STAT: The Thunder missed 13 of its final 16 shots and turned it over four times in the final nine minutes.
THE RESULT: Mavs, 112-105 in overtime.
GAME 5: MAY 25, 2011
THE RUN: In the final 5 1/2 minutes, the Thunder was outscored 17-6.
THE STAT: After taking a 90-83 lead with 5:49 remaining, the Thunder went 2-of-9 from the field with six turnovers.
THE RESULT: Mavs, 100-96.