OKC-DET Preview - Interior Defense Key

DETROIT – The mark of a mature NBA team is consistency in effort, energy and execution.

The Thunder kicked off its home schedule with consecutive victories over the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks, but its challenge on Friday will be against the resurgent Detroit Pistons. Head Coach Mo Cheeks’ team boasts a mix of veterans in Josh Smith and Chauncey Billups with a group of rising players in Brandon Jennings, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

Those various skill sets will be a challenge for various players on the floor, but according to Thunder leaders like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, however, the Thunder’s only job is to play its own brand of basketball to the best of its ability.

“We just have to be consistent,” Westbrook explained. “We just have to go in there and be confident.”

The focal point for Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team will be preventing the Pistons from making headway in the lane, as Detroit comes into the game as the league’s leaders in points-in-the-paint with 53.0 per game. The duties to keep Monroe and Drummond, each of whom average double digits in points and rebounds, off the glass and away from the rim will fall to the quartet of Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison and Steven Adams, with the potential for Hasheem Thabeet to see action also.

"Their point guards do such a good job in the pick and roll of dumping it off to them," Durant said. "We'll make sure we get that under control and hit those guys before they get to the paint and maybe that will slow them down. They're a really good tandem of bigs with Josh Smith at the three, so we have our work cut out for us."

“That’s the identity we want to have - being a physical defensive team, using our length and using our quickness," Durant explained. "I think that’s what’s unique about our team. We can be physical and long and athletic at the same time. That’s helping us on the offensive end too.”

In order to do a complete and thorough job on the defensive end, the Thunder’s perimeter defenders must be ready to disrupt passes, prevent dribble penetration and contest shooters.

As with all parts of the game, Friday night’s defensive strategy relies upon a full team effort. The togetherness of the team and the camaraderie that was built in training camp will carry over throughout the regular season as the team takes on every challenge with a unified mindset.

“We’re going on the road,” Westbrook said. “All we have is us in the organization and we have to take care of business.”

In the Notes:

- The Thunder went 2-0 against the Pistons in 2012-13, and overall is 8-1 against Detroit.

- Former Thunder assistant coach Mo Cheeks is now the Detroit Pistons’ Head Coach.

- The Thunder has held all four of its opponents under 46 percent shooting so far this season.

- Serge Ibaka has led the Thunder in rebounding each of the first four games, grabbing at least nine boards in each game.

Broadcast Info:

6:30 p.m. CT. TV - Fox Sports Oklahoma. Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network