Sweeping the Mavs seemed like such a grand notion for the Thunder.

Bouncing the defending champions. Avenging the Western Conference meltdown of a year ago. Showing Big Brother that Little Brother is growing up fast.

Oh, what fun.

But before all the fashionably late fans had even settled into their seats at the American Airlines Center, beating the Mavs on Saturday night became not a novelty but a necessity. That's because Kendrick Perkins went to the bench, then to the locker room with an injury. The Thunder big man and defensive anchor was soon ruled out for the rest of the game with a right hip strain.

The extent of the injury is unknown.

Gulp.

Good thing the Thunder went ahead and figured out a way to end this series Saturday night.

Thunder 103, Mavs 97.

Allowing the Mavs to extend this series and send it back to Oklahoma City could've led to disaster. Sure, an NBA team has never come back from a 3-0 deficit, but messing around with a savvy, veteran team if your best defender might be sidelined for awhile is dangerous business.

"When you have an opportunity to eliminate a team and close it out," Thunder veteran Derek Fisher said, "you have to take full advantage of it."