OKC vs. NYK Preview – Stick to Defensive Principles on All Fronts

After a tough road loss to the Orlando Magic on Friday night, the Thunder didn’t let any emotions linger.

Tactically, there are things Head Coach Scott brooks’ club wants to correct and improve upon, but its attitude coming into each practice, shootaround and game remains the same. Heading into Sunday afternoon’s early tipoff against the New York Knicks, the Thunder wants to keep an even keel, avoid the emotional rollercoaster that the 82-game NBA schedule can sometimes create and instead operate by its internal goals and principles thanks to leaders like Kevin Durant and Nick Collison.

“The message was like always – stay consistent in what we do and try to get better,” Brooks said. “There are lots of good things that we’ve done and we just want to continue to build on those good habits.”

“We want to be a team that is going to play every day regardless of what happened,” Collison said. “We want to be the best we can every night regardless.”

As the Thunder transitioned from looking at film on ways it could improve from Friday night’s game – namely defensive intensity and turnovers, it moved on to its responsibilities against the Knicks. Brooks outlined that the Thunder has to limit New York’s transition chances and open looks at the rim from the three-point line. It all starts, however, with the Knicks’ leading scorer, Carmelo Anthony.

While the Thunder has to contain Anthony and the free space that he gets on the floor by using all five men, it also has to stay in its defensive shell with communication and activity in order to keep the other four Knicks under control.

“We want to make his catches more difficult,” Collison said. “We don’t want to give him too much space. He likes space to be able to shoot his rhythm jump shot. You have to still have sound principles on the other guys. You can’t always overreact or change your habits because they have a great scorer.”

“There’s a spot where you can show the most help but still get back to your man, and you want to try to find that spot on every possession,” Collison explained. “That’s where awareness and concentration comes in.”

In the Notes:

- The Thunder is 1-0 against the Knicks this season, and overall is 7-3 against Minnesota in the regular season.

- Since the beginning of the 2011-12 season, the Thunder has the best record in “bounce-back” games at 40-10.

- In the last 14 games, in which the Thunder has gone 12-2, Serge Ibaka is averaging 18.8 points on 62.4 percent shooting along with 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks.

Broadcast Info:

12:00 p.m. CT. TV – ABC; Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network