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NBA Playoffs 2012, Mavericks Vs. Thunder: Serge Ibaka Steps Up

As the Oklahoma City Thunder are all but assured of a first round victory - if not a sweep - of the defending champion Dallas Mavericks - the local attention has turned away from the young gun scoring and towards the advent of a crucial title component: defense.

The Daily Oklahoman profiles Serg Ibaka's block of Jason Terry's layup attempt in the second quarter, a bucket that would've cut the OKC lead to four and given the morbund home crowd in American Airlines Arena a reason to cheer:

Air Congo flew in from behind, let Terry release the ball and swatted the ball to Grand Prairie.

The Rawlings looked like it had been shot out of a cannon. It sailed on a line sideways, the 25 feet to the out-of-bounds line and beyond. Over the heads of the rich and famous in the Nicholson seats. Past the peasants sitting behind them.

The ball landed about seven rows up, with all the velocity of a baseball line drive.

Holy guacamole, Mav fans seemed to say. And their team seconded the motion.

Of all the things for Thunder fans to get excited about, the defensive prowess in Game 3 might be the most important going forward, as OKC seemed simply unstoppable once Kevin Durant shook out of his early Playoff slump and Russel Westbrook was deadly in the second half. However, Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins proved to menacing in the paint and near the rim, creating "uncomfortable" shots for Dallas, and making OKC look like a Finals contender in the process.

For more on the Oklahoma City Thunder, check out Welcome To Loud City and SB Nation's NBA page.