GAME 3 PREVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
May 25th 2014
Thunder Amped Up for Game 3

The days of preparation have passed and have a three day break, the Thunder is ready for game action.

Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals tips off tonight at Chesapeake Energy Arena as Head Coach Scott Brooks’ Thunder squad takes on the San Antonio Spurs. Being down 2-0 in the series isn’t the spot the Thunder was hoping to be in at this point, but it knows that it must chip away throughout the series to get back in the right position. It starts with tonight, and the Thunder’s leaders Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook know their squad must put everything it has into staying sharp, focused and precise on every possession in order to get Game 3, drawing back within one game of tying up the series.

“We’re just focusing in on this game,” Westbrook said. “We can’t worry about anything else but tonight’s game and the task at hand.”

“It’s just being committed to wanting to win,” Westbrook explained. “We’re definitely not giving up, definitely not quitting and we’re coming out and playing.”

While the Thunder has been chomping at the bit to get back on the game floor and redeem itself for lost opportunities in Games 1 and 2 to get wins, the team also used its time at the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center wisely over the past three days. With film sessions, practices and Sunday morning’s shootaround, the Thunder had a chance to assess what went wrong in the first two games of the series and find opportunities for improvement moving forward.

“It gave us an opportunity to see what we’ve done wrong, what we can do better and how we can improve as a team,” Westbrook explained.

One area the Thunder identified as a unit was needing to attack more on the offensive end, by using good ball movement and player movement to create driving lanes to the basket. With the triumvirate of Durant, Westbrook and Reggie Jackson on the floor at the same time, the Thunder has three playmakers that can create for themselves, attack the paint and make passes to others for scoring opportunities. The speed and athleticism of that trio can help the Thunder attack in fast break situations or off defensive rebounds, in addition to putting pressure on the Spurs in the half court.

“Everybody can attack in transition,” Westbrook said. “They can’t load up on too many guys with all three of us on the floor at the same time, so it helps us out.”

Regardless of the lineups that are on the floor and if the rehabbing Serge Ibaka makes an appearance on the floor tonight, the Thunder enters Game 3 as hungry as can be. This Thunder squad has always been one of the best, most prideful bounce-back teams in the NBA, and tonight it will need to put that mentality on display. Ibaka’s ability to play will be a game time decision tonight, depending on how he feels after his work today at shootaround. Either way, the Thunder knows it has enough in its arsenal to compete for 48 minutes, and hopes to make sure the home fans leave happy tonight.

“You’re going to see tonight,” Ibaka said.

“We’re excited to play tonight,” Durant said. “It’s going to be a loud crowd in there and really energetic. We’re looking forward to it.”