Now, the three-ball is a major cog. The Thunder made 47 against Memphis; that's almost seven a game. Many came in transition, when the shooters spread out with Westbrook on his horse, forcing the Grizzlies to choose between a 3-pointer or a Westbrook basket attack.
Almost always, teams will choose the 3-pointer. And an open 3-pointer gives Durant and Harden all kinds of options. Shoot, drive to the basket, pass. The Thunder offense works great in transition. Slowed up, not so much.
Of course, wanting to run and running are two different things. Hard to run off a made basket, and the Mavs have been efficient at making baskets against the Blazers and Lakers, two quality foes.
It's the second straight series the Thunder must acclimate to a different style. Denver played uptempo with penetrating point guards. Memphis pounded inside, like a football team.
Now comes Dallas, with precision passing and great shooting and a bunch of guys who absolutely know what they're doing.
“It's going to be a big adjustment,” Durant said. “We gotta scramble and play hard.”
Get ready for it. The Mavs will frustrate the Thunder. The Mavs will make the Thunder look foolish at times. Will cause turnovers and bad shots and defensive lapses, all by their savviness.
But the Thunder will make the Mavs look old. Tired. Worn out. In need of a makeover. Whoever snaps back more quickly from such malaise will win the series.
Big Kendrick Perkins, whose value in this series lessens after neutralizing Memphis center Marc Gasol, played on the Celtics' 2008 NBA title team, which was considered old itself and had to fight off young legs.
The notion of young vs. old turned the Thunder center introspective. He talked of a text he got the other day from his Celtic coach, Doc Rivers. “Something like, a champion keeps going, know matter how many times he gets hit,” Perk said. “Keep moving, keep taking punches. As long as we don't get knocked out, we'll be good.”
Keep moving was the best part of that advice. Keep moving and moving fast, Thunder. It's your best chance to beat the Mavs.
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.