OKC at MIL Preview - Thunder Must Defend the Three

MILWAUKEE – Russell Westbrook was about to leave the gym along with the rest of the Thunder after Saturday morning’s shoot-around had ended, but had a quick second of hesitation, deciding to go back to the three-point line and get up a few more shots.

Even on the road in the midst of a difficult stretch of three games in four nights, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club is eager to get on the practice floor to stay sharp. Treating the game as a craft, something that must be mastered, tweaked and perfected every day, is the way the Thunder has operated ever since the team arrived in Oklahoma City. During a week like this one with no true practice days, the Thunder places value on its morning shootarounds, including today’s in advance of tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

“You have to take advantage of the shootarounds because the three games in four nights, there is not a lot of practice time,” Brooks said. “We try to utilize our shootarounds, whether its 20 to 30 minutes of just trying to clean up on things that we have to improve on or just going over some new things.”

“We’ve done a good job with that and today we cleaned up a few areas that we felt were important going into tonight’s game,” Brooks continued.

In preparation for the Bucks, the 5-3 Thunder mostly has focused on itself – getting in sync as a unit with regard to its defensive principles and its offensive sets. The 2-6 Bucks present a number of challenges, namely at the three-point line, where they shoot a higher percentage (43.5 percent) than they do from the field overall (42.3 percent). The Thunder will try to close out on shooters and prevent the Bucks from getting hot from behind the arc, giving Brooks’ club an opportunity to turn defensive stops into easier offensive chances.

“They have good three point shooters in OJ (Mayo) and (Gary) Neal and they have good offensive rebounders,” Brooks said. “We have to make sure that we control the three-point line and keep them off the glass.”

In the Notes:

- The Thunder went 1-1 against the Bucks in 2012-13, and overall is 4-5 against Golden State.

- The Thunder is 4-0 this season with its normal starting lineup (Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka)

- The Thunder has held each of its eight opponents under 50 percent shooting from the field so far this year.

Broadcast Info:

7:30 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma, Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network