One of the biggest benefits of taking care of business in the first round is the added rest you can give your injured players, which is why the Oklahoma City Thunder's sweep of the Dallas Mavericks could be a big deal in their efforts to reach the NBA Finals.
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins left in the first quarter of their Game 4 victory with a hip strain, and it's still unclear when he will be able to return:
Thunder say center Kendrick Perkins has a right hip muscle strain and didn't specify when he would return to action.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will have to try to sweep the Dallas Mavericks in their 2012 NBA Playoffs first round series without their starting center. Kendrick Perkins suffered a right hip strain early in the first quarter and will not return for the rest of the game, TNT sideline reporter Mardy Snider reported on the broadcast.
While Perkins is not a major offensive threat, his defense and toughness helps define the Thunder's identity. It's not a loss on the caliber of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook or James Harden, but it is something that will affect Oklahoma City going forward. It remains unclear when Perkins suffered the injury.
With Perkins sidelined, the Thunder will rely more on backup Nick Collison to man the position. Veteran Nazr Mohammad will likely also play more after being out of the rotation for the first three games of the playoffs.