OKC vs. DEN Preview – Confident Thunder Pushing Forward
Camaraderie, chemistry and confidence are intangibles that impact NBA basketball every single night and the Thunder uses those qualities to improve on and off the court.
After a momentum building three-game winning streak on the road against the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors ended with a thrilling double-overtime victory, the Thunder’s togetherness has never been more evident. Team leaders like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison have helped keep the ship steady from getting too high or too low, but the team couldn’t help be excited about how it came away victorious on the road in emotional and intense settings. Those experiences help the group grow closer together, build trust in one another and can breed future success.
“It was definitely a confidence builder, especially after that last win,” Durant said. “The locker room was as electric as I’ve seen it the whole year because of the ‘wow’ factor and playing that type of game, and knowing Russell was smiling even though he left the game early.”
“We just keep growing closer and closer,” Durant continued. “On the planes, in the hotels, going out to eat, everything is starting to come together really well.”
With two days to refocus after the road trip, the Thunder was able to put the wins behind it and laser in on the Denver Nuggets, who come to Chesapeake Energy Arena tonight. The Thunder wants to play the same brand of tough defense and flowing offense that it did on the road, while trying to contain a high scoring team that likes to get out and run. With Ty Lawson at the helm of the Nuggets’ offense, Denver will try to push the pace at every opportunity. It will be up to the Thunder to get back and show a wall of defenders, then identify perimeter shooters, match up and close out.
“It’s just getting back in transition and keeping them in front of us,” Durant explained. “We’ll try to make them play in the half-court. They’re good in the half-court, but they’d rather play in transition. We have to get back and I think that comes from taking good shots on the offensive end also and not turning it over.”
Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club puts in the work every day to be successful, whether it is with player development or specifically game planning for shooters like Denver’s Randy Foye or gritty rebounders like Kenneth Faried. By staying in the gym at the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center both before and after practice, each player follows their coach’s lead.
“We know how important every single day is,” Durant said. “Coach always emphasizes that every single day is important as far as our development as a team, building our habits every single day.”
In the Notes:
- The Thunder is 2-1 against the Nuggets this season, and overall is 9-13 against Denver in the regular season.
- With more than 50 wins this season, the Thunder joins just the San Antonio Spurs as the only other franchise with a 0.610 winning percentage in each of the last five consecutive seasons.
- Steven Adams currently ranks sixth among rookies with 4.2 rebounds and third amongst rookies with blocks at 0.77 per game this year.
7:00 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma; Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network