Jason Terry Talks to B/R About Matchup with the Thunder, Possible Heat Rematch
As they awaited the outcome of the Grizzlies-Thunder series, Terry and the Mavs got a little bit of rest and scouted their potential Western Conference finals opponents.
Now that we know the Mavericks and Thunder will square off in the Western Conference Finals, it's time to start previewing the series. Here are Jason "Jet" Terry's thoughts...
Youth vs. Experience
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Against the Thunder, the Mavericks will be dealing with a young, athletic team.
The Mavericks will try to neutralize that youth and athleticism by slowing the game down. Jet said, "If you can take care of the ball...and not turn the ball over, they struggle in the half court offensively."
Dallas clearly has the edge in experience over Oklahoma City, and Terry knows that. He talked a lot about his teammates, saying, "Not only do you got [Jason] Kidd, but you got the best European ballplayer ever in the history of the game in Dirk Nowitzki."
They've already faced two teams that many perceived to be more athletic prior to the series, and they came out on top both times.
Execution and experience will be huge for the Mavs in the conference finals.
Dealing with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook
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The Mavericks will have to deal with one of the league's best offensive duos.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to average nearly 50 points a game during the season. They're averaging just under 60 a game during the postseason.
"Durant and Westbrook, they’re the head. The head of the snake. You gotta pay special attention to them," Terry said.
"Without those two players, that team would not be a playoff team."
Being personally matched up with Westbrook has to be tough. He's one of the most athletic and aggressive point guards in the league.
"He’s fierce in transition. He’s nonstop. He’s always attacking. When you have a guy like that, you’re always on your toes," said Terry.
Terry continued, saying, "He reminds me a lot of Derrick Rose with his athletic ability.And I don’t think we’ve seen anything like those two, from an athletic standpoint, at the point guard position. Allen Iverson, Steve Francis, those two come to mind for me."
With Westbrook taking on such a huge role in the playoffs, many have wondered if a rift is starting to form between he and Kevin Durant.
Terry and the Mavericks aren't counting on such a feud helping them this round: "It’s definitely the media’s creation. Those two have had tremendous success since they played with Oklahoma."
He then added, "You’re gonna have critics in this game. For them, they’re gonna have to deal with that."
The Thunder Frontcourt
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After discussing Westbrook and Durant, Terry shared his thoughts on Oklahoma City's new-look frontcourt with Kendrick Perkins.
Does Dallas still have the advantage down low?
"All-Defensive NBA team player in Tyson Chandler. We got a big in Brendan Haywood who stops anyone. And then you got Dirk Nowitzki. So I believe we match up very well with Oklahoma’s bigs."
Terry and the Mavs are obviously confident despite the talent of the Thunder bigs.
There is no doubt that they are a very long, athletic frontcourt that can give a lot of players headaches because of their defense.
Serge Ibaka is an elite shot-blocker, and Perkins often finds a way to stay in front of some of the league's best post players.
Terry is aware of those things but doesn't seem too worried. He said, "We bring a little something different to the table with Tyson’s athleticism, the way he runs the floor. And then Dirk’s ability to hit from inside and out."
Mavericks Will Do What They Do
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"When you have a team like we have, filled with a lot of veterans, spearheaded by none other than the Hall of Famer Jason Kidd, that’s what allows us to concentrate on us, and us only," Terry said.
Dallas' biggest focus heading into the next round is not who its opponent is or what it'll do. The Mavericks are focused on what they themselves will do.
They will look to beat whoever they play with defense. Terry said, "It’s all about our system. Our system is defense first. With our defense, we create opportunities to score on offense."
In terms of their offense, he added, "Offensively, we like the old style of play where the ball’s moving and everybody touches it."
Dallas gets a lot of that offense from its great bench players. That is one of the team's biggest strengths.
As the leader of the second unit, Terry said, "We get overlooked a lot with what we’ve done consistently night in and night out with the performance of our bench."
He added, "I think that was the difference in the Lakers series, and it will be the difference in the upcoming series."
Another difference is the new look this team has: "It’s a different mentality. But again, this is a different ball club. The talent level of this team outdoes any of those teams that I’ve been on in years previous in Dallas."
Terry and Dirk Nowitzki are the only two players left from the Dallas team that made the NBA Finals in 2006, so it certainly is a different team. Where they have a different mentality is with Nowitzki.
Terry said, "Dirk this year has taken upon himself to become more of a vocal leader."
That change in Dirk has been evident during this postseason. He's played great, and the team is feeding off his newfound intensity.
Dallas has looked great this postseason and is actually the favorite for a change. It should beat the Thunder and advance to the NBA Finals.
"We’re happy to be where we’re at," said Terry. "We’re humble. We’re hungry. And we’re really looking forward to this next matchup in the Western Conference finals. And if we handle our business, we know what lies ahead of us."
What About the Shot at Revenge Against the Heat?
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In 2006, the Mavericks were up two games to none in the Finals against the Miami Heat. They lost four straight games in that series and have struggled in the playoffs ever since.
Now, they're one series away from a return to the finals. So are the Heat.
Are the Mavs thinking specifically about a rematch? Terry said, "All our fans are thinking about that, but for Dirk and I, it’s more about this next round.
"The team that we face in the Western Conference finals is in the way. They’re in the way of destiny."
There's no doubt that this team wants to return to the finals, but it isn't necessarily looking forward to an '06 rematch: "Whoever it is, it doesn’t matter. We just feel it’s our time.
"We’re not going to let anyone stand in our way of getting back to where we know we belong—in the Finals and hoisting up that trophy."
He added, "Would we like to play Miami? It would be fun for the fans."