Thunder Looking for Consistency During Home Stand
Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks joked after Saturday night’s game that anyone in the NBA can have one great night, pointing out that even he, as a journeyman point guard in the league for 10 years, managed to have a few big games in his career.
Brooks explained, however, that the true mark of a high level NBA team is being able to replicate strong performances night after night. Thus far in the season, the 6-3 Thunder has put together strong displays on the offensive and defensive ends, rebounded well, gotten out into transition and performed admirably in a variety of departments, but not necessarily all at the same time. As team leaders, players like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are guiding the Thunder to put the same brand of basketball on the floor each and every night, for all 48 minutes, no doubt a difficult task in the competitive NBA landscape.
“We just have to do it for four quarters,” Durant explained. “It’s a matter of time before we put it all together and I’m excited because we have a lot more room to get better. Everybody is just finding their groove I think. We just have to keep it up.”
“You have to have the mindset that you can’t take a night off and you can’t take a possession off,” Brooks said. “If you have that mindset, you have a better chance of playing consistent basketball.”
Over the years the Thunder has steadily become more-and-more reliable on each given night, particularly on the defensive end, which can also impact how the team plays on offense. There will be nights when the Thunder can’t find a shooting rhythm or that the ball seems to bounce the wrong ways in the flow of the offense, but the team’s task each night is to bring the same high level of intensity, focus and togetherness on defense. No matter how the offense is playing, if the Thunder defends up to its standards, it will give itself a chance in every contest it plays.
“If your shot doesn’t fall, it doesn’t mean your game should fall,” Brooks explained. “You have to have pride in your defense individually and collectively as a team.”
“In order to win in this league, you have to be able to play different lineups and different styles, but the most important thing is being consistent on the defensive end,” Brooks continued.
The Thunder may have gone 1-2 on its three-game road swing, but it had a chance to win all three games in the closing minutes. Ending the trip with a positive performance, one that was stout on the defensive end in holding the Milwaukee Bucks to just 34.9 percent shooting from the field was a nice way to head home. Regardless of wins or losses, however, the Thunder chooses to look ahead and not behind, so will transfer all of its attention to its upcoming six-game home stand, staring with Monday’s game against the Denver Nuggets.
“It’s our same mentality,” Brooks said. “Focus on the first one. Don’t worry about the second one until we finish the first. We’ve always done that. I don’t’ see our mindset ever changing. We’re going to focus on Denver first and then go from there.”
“We just want to move on from (the road trip),” Durant said. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to have six games in a row at home. We’ll just try to take care of home court. We have some tough games, so hopefully we do a great job.”