Finish Them

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:22 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Apr 24, 2011 8:5 PM CDT

Grant Belcher
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

DENVER – A series that most analysts and fans thought would be ultra-competitive and might go to seven games has been a little more lopsided than they predicted.

Not that Thunder fans are complaining or anything.

No team in NBA history has ever come back from being down 3-0 in a playoff series to win it, and it doesn’t appear this one will be any exception.

The Nuggets and Thunder will tip at 9:30 p.m. central time at the Pepsi Center on Monday night, giving Oklahoma City a chance to not only win its first playoff series in the “Thunder era,” but also to sweep it.

“Denver is going to come in here with their season on the line,” OKC’s Nick Collison said. “So they are going to give everything they have and I’m sure the building will support them on that.”

Even if the series doesn’t end in a sweep, Oklahoma City’s recent dominance over Denver has been apparent.

The Thunder have won five straight games against the Nuggets – all coming within the month.

Even when things get ugly, as they did for a while in Game 3, OKC has found a way to adapt.

When the Thunder racked up early fouls, Serge Ibaka put up perhaps the best performance of his young career with 22 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks.

Center Kendrick Perkins called Ibaka’s performance “phemonemal,” saying he focused on defense to begin with and let his offense come to him as the game progressed.

“He came up huge,” Perkins said. “He was the player of the game in everybody’s eyes, especially mine. We got in foul trouble and he held it down down there by himself.”

With the Western Conference so shaken up at the moment, the Thunder can take their destiny by the reins.

The top three seeds - San Antonio, Los Angeles and Dallas - have each lost two games already.

If Oklahoma City were to complete the sweep, they would be gaining valuable rest, practice and scouting time while the other – undeniably older – teams would still be working hard to finish out their series.

But Scott Brooks, one of the young masters of coach speak, said all his team can focus on is winning whatever game is coming up next.

“We’re gonna have to fight ‘em and do our best to keep them from doing what they want to do,” he said. “That’s always been our game plan and we’ve done a good job with that but we’ve still got to keep doing it.”