NBA Playoffs 2012: Oklahoma City Thunder Continue to Impress with Their Play
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Last year the Thunder went through their growing pains in the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, where they made beginner mistakes (lost a large lead resulting in an overtime loss), but appear so far this year to have learned from their past mistakes.
They are a team that does not panic and appears rather calm, continuing to playing their style of basketball.
Point guard Russell Westbrook seems to have figured out when to shoot a jumper and when to take his defender off the dribble and as a result has been making smarter decisions under head coach Scott Brooks.
Led by the youth of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, the Thunder got major help from Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison that gave them the edge in Game 3 and Game 4.
Ibaka and Perkins were able to put immense pressure on the Spurs' interior players by forcing them to defend them, thus opening the lane for the others to cut at will. Sefolosha hit big shots from the three-point line, which got him going after struggling somewhat in the first two games in San Antonio.
Ibaka shot 11-of-11 from the field in Game 4, forcing the Spurs to re-think their entire defensive strategy going forward. Perkins was never an offensive-minded player during his days with the Boston Celtics, but he has been making more of an effort in the playoffs to have one to keep his defender rather honest.
Additionally Nick Collison has been playing an underrated role off the bench with his ability to pick up timely offensive fouls and gather offensive rebounds. Collison has shown that he can knock down a jump-shot when called upon, although he is usually found underneath the basket making the “hustle” plays.
The Thunder are a team on the rise without question and might not be finished just yet.
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