Asked exactly what the Thunder couldn't overcome when the Mavs were in command of the matchup, Perkins was to the point.
“A younger Dirk,” he said. “That's what the difference was. He just was battling a few injuries these last couple of years so it was a younger Dirk at the time.”
In the first 15 meetings from the start of the 2008-09 season through the 2011 playoffs, the Thunder was just 5-10 against the Mavs. One of OKC's wins came without Nowitzki in the lineup. The Thunder's 10 losses during that stretch came by an average margin of 6.5 points. The games were close, but the Mavs had mastered the Thunder.
In his 14 games against Oklahoma City during that first 15-game stretch, Nowitzki seemed unstoppable, averaging 31.7 points on 54.7 shooting.
But things took a drastic turn for Dallas following its five-game series win in the 2011 Western Conference Finals.
It's no coincidence that in the past 11 games, Nowitzki is averaging just 21.3 points on 40.4 percent shooting.
Dallas did the Thunder — and the rest of the league — a favor when it dismantled its 2011 championship team. The Mavs just haven't been the same since parting with Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler, J.J. Barea, Jason Kidd and DeShawn Stevenson.
The Thunder, of course, isn't consumed with how the tables have turned.
All that seems to matter to Oklahoma City is that Dallas has won five of six, and the Mavs are desperate to continue their current momentum.
“We know that they've been playing well, trying to make a late playoff push to get into the playoffs,” Perkins said. “We just got to make sure we come in focused and play our game.”