Oklahoma City Thunder: Mavericks' 'little brother' Thunder has grown up

The Thunder's recent dominance over the Mavs has removed much of the allure from what was a storybook matchup just a short time ago.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: March 16, 2013

— Trips down to Dallas just don't feel the same.

The Thunder's recent dominance over the Mavs has removed much of the allure from what was a storybook matchup just a short time ago.

Once seemingly bound to become the Thunder's chief rival, the Mavs haven't been a real threat to OKC for two seasons.

Perhaps this is what happens when the “little brother” grows up.

Entering Sunday night's game inside the American Airlines Center, it's now the Mavs that must hold the Thunder in high esteem.

“They took a huge step,” Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki told reporters last month, following the Thunder's 21-point drubbing of Dallas. “They went to the Finals last year and, to me, they were actually the favorites to win it the way they ran through the whole Western Conference. Obviously, now they're more experienced. Going through tough times, you learn from losing tough games. They got a really tough team.”

While the Thunder (49-17) takes the West's second-best record into Sunday's game, the Mavs (31-34) are three games out of the playoff picture, currently sitting in the 10th spot.

It's not just their respective places in the standings. The Thunder has won nine straight against the Mavs and 10 of the past 11 meetings. Dallas hasn't defeated OKC since taking a 100-87 home victory on Jan. 2, 2012.

It's a stark difference from the “big brother-little brother scenario” former Mavs guard Jason Terry characterized the rivalry as following a Mavs win in January 2012.

Asked what changed, Thunder center Kendrick Perkins said his team grew confident.

“We just started playing well,” Perkins said. “I think (we give them) matchup problems. (Kevin Durant) seems to go off in those games and have great games.”

The last time Durant was in Dallas, he exploded for a career-high 52 points — and that was an off night, marred by Durant making just 13 of 31 shots.

In the first three games of this year's series against the Mavs, Durant has averaged 37 points, his highest scoring average against any team this season.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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