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OKC hard to beat if James Harden gets hot

OKLAHOMA CITY – The defensive game plan against the Thunder has to focus on back-to-back scoring champ Kevin Durant. Russell Westbrook gets a large chunk of the rest of the attention.

However, if James Harden gets going, Oklahoma City is especially hard to beat.

The Thunder have been unbeatable in the playoffs when their sixth man has been a scoring force. They are 5-0 when Harden scores at least 15 points and 4-6 when he does not.

Jason Terry is the Mavs’ primary defender on Harden. Terry doesn’t exactly have a reputation as a defensive stopper, but he embraces this challenge.

“It’s been personal since the first game of the series,” Terry said. “It will remain to be.”

Harden lit up the Mavs for a playoff-high 23 points and four assists in the Thunder’s Game 2 win. He crashed back to earth with a seven-point, 2-of-9 shooting, one-assist performance in Oklahoma City’s Game 3 loss.

According to Terry, Harden will have to deal with the same type of defensive pressure that he did Saturday night.

“I’m going to be aggressive and not allow him to catch the ball,” Terry said. “Players like him and myself, if you allow us to catch it, now we have options. If you take that away, what do you go to? For them, I don’t know what it is, but I’m going to continue to push him further and further out on the floor, deny him the basketball and if he does catch it, be up and into him.”