Thunder Proud to Play in Tulsa Tonight
It’s just a quick hour-and-a-half jaunt up the turnpike from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. The road trip is one many Thunder players who have seen time with the Tulsa 66ers are familiar with, but tonight the entire team will be heading north east for a clash with the New Orleans Pelicans at Tulsa’s BOK Center.
This will be the first time the Thunder has played New Orleans since the team was re-branded as the Pelicans, but it’s certainly not a first for the team to give its fans in Tulsa a show. Head Coach Scott Brooks and his players are very cognizant of the fact that they represent not just Oklahoma City, but the entirety of the state of Oklahoma and much of the surrounding region. There are die-hard Thunder fans throughout the state, so it will be a treat for the team to play in front of a packed house in Tulsa tonight.
“Every game that we’ve had there, it’s been a great atmosphere,” Brooks said. “It’s great for us and great for the fans. It’s an opportunity for us to continue to show the state our team. We have an amazing following of Thunder fans throughout the state, and we take pride in it. We want our fans to be proud of what we do on and off the floor. That’s not going to change.”
“It’s a real pleasure to go to a different city in the state of Oklahoma because we know they support the team as well as the people here in Oklahoma City,” guard Thabo Sefolosha echoed. “It’s great to be going over there. I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we’ll give them a good show.”
As Kevin Durant said, the Thunder “looks forward” to its preseason tilt in Tulsa every preseason. The team is also excited to get another game under its belt tonight as players sharpen up all aspects of the game in advance of the regular season.
In fact, the schedule over the past three days has somewhat of a regular season routine – with a game Tuesday, practice Wednesday and game Thursday. Outside of the bus ride up to Tulsa, this three day stretch matches the regular-season-style pace and tempo that the Thunder has been working with in practice.
“It does feel like we’re in regular season mode already with a day in between games,” Durant explained. “We’ve been working hard in practice. Our practices are almost like games as far as intensity. Everybody is getting acclimated pretty quickly. We’ll just use these games to get better and get ready for the regular season.”
The Thunder knows that it has a tough test tonight that will challenge every player as a preseason tune up. In October thus far, the Thunder and Pelicans are two of just three unbeaten NBA squads. With players like Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have a highly talented, young roster. Tonight, however, the Thunder will be more focused on how it is growing internally, according to Durant. Facets of the game like lineup combinations, play calls and defensive strategies will all be analyzed to better the team in the long term, even as the team also tries to be victorious after 48 minutes.
“They have a really good team,” Durant said. “We’re excited to see how much we’ve grown this last day at practice. Hopefully we transfer it over to the game.”
“We’re just focused on what we’re doing,” rookie guard Andre Roberson explained. “We’re going to compete hard and everything should fall into place.”