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The Oklahoma City Thunder make the short trip across the Red River today with a very important piece of luggage, a 2-0 series lead tucked away in their back pockets.
Scott Brooks and his staff led players in a short practice yesterday and a longer one today as they fine tune their game plan for tomorrow night’s 8:30 tipoff.
“We’ve had an opportunity to watch film and see what we need to do to get ourselves right for Game 3,” point guard Russell Westbrook said, “we know it’s gonna be tough. They never give up they always keep fighting.”
Funny, with all the whining coming out of Mavs Camp I thought the Thunder were doing all the fighting. Did I say whining? Yes and there was more of it when Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle spoke to reporters at American Airlines Center Tuesday.
“There are things that are happening out there that can’t happen,” he said, “you can’t hit a guy in the face when he shoots a jump shot, intentional or not intentional that happened.”
Well, Serge Ibaka did go up to try and block a Dirk Nowitzki shot but instead of swatting the ball he missed and caught the Nowitzki in the face, didn’t seem like that big a deal. The a little later Dirk and Kendrick Perkins had their little dustup which has generated all kinds of attention.
Carlisle seems to think the NBA should step in and maybe suspend Perkins though replays clearly showed it was Nowitzki who started the action with a shove to Perk’s chest. Perkins tried to slap the big German away but unlike Serge, Perk didn’t actually connect.
Even so when Carlisle was asked if the league should hand down fines and or suspensions to anyone in a Thunder uniform Carlisle answered, “they’re going to see all that stuff in black & white in New York (NBA Headquarters) and they’ll decide whatever they’ll decide.”
More than likely that decision has already been made. A source with the Thunder said if the league was going to fine or suspend anyone it would have happened yesterday so teams would have had time to make adjustments in practice.
Thunder guard Derek Fisher has been in more of these physical playoff battles than anyone else on the court in this series and he disagrees with Carlisle’s assessment that what’s happening on the floor is, “dirty (expletive).”
“I don’t see any dirty plays happening on the court,” Fisher told reporters this afternoon, “I just see two teams trying to win a game and because of the familiarity of the two teams, it’s not a lot of fun to see the same guys out there.”
In fact Fisher says what’s happening with the Thunder and the Mavs is not unlike what happens nearly every day between guys wearing blue jerseys and white jerseys during Thunder practice sessions, “You know you get mad at each other and beat up on each other more than you do the opponent cuz you just get tired of seeing ‘em. So I don’t see anything or feel anything that’s not what you usually see in the playoffs. It’s supposed to be physical, it’s even supposed to be chippy at times. That’s how you know everybody cares about what we’re trying to do.”
And make no mistake, what the Thunder is trying to do is end this series in Dallas so when they return to Oklahoma City they won’t have to see the Mavericks again.