GAME PREVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
May 6th, 2013
GAME 2: Thunder vs Grizzlies

Just as it doesn’t dwell on a tough loss, the Thunder doesn’t linger on an exhilarating win either.

On Monday morning after Sunday afternoon’s Game One victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in the second round of the Playoffs, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club got back to work. It’s still important for the Thunder to learn from the 48 minutes it put on tape on both the offensive and defensive ends, using that information to help itself best prepare for Game Two on Tuesday night.

“You have to put it behind you and get to the next game quickly,” Brooks said. “Our focus is watching the film and moving onto the next game.”

After practice Thunder players from Thabo Sefolosha to Kevin Martin to Derek Fisher all explained that the keys for Game Two will be similar to the ones in Game One, but there is the understanding that the way the tactics play out won’t be exactly the same. What will be important, however, is that the Thunder guards continue to support the bigs in the paint to prevent the Grizzlies from getting offensive rebounds.

Gang rebounding is going to be a key throughout the series, as each player on the team understands their job on each individual play. In the process of team-building, Brooks’ most impressive job each season is helping players find their niche within the squad. Players buying into the system and their role within it is one of the most powerful ways each man on the roster can impact winning.

“That’s the key for our team,” Sefolosha said. “We have players who have been playing together for a long time, veteran guys who know how to play. We need everybody to step up, speak up and do their job.”

“That’s the difference between the teams that find success in the postseason and the teams that don’t,” Fisher said. “Obviously the superstars are who they are and statistically by and large they’re going to be who they’ve always been. It’s the guys who can impact the game even if the stat sheet doesn’t show it, that really help teams find success in the Playoffs. That’s what we’ll need to do in order to try and find wins.”

Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins sacrifice their own rebounding numbers to wrestle and box out Mark Gasol and Zach Randolph on the defensive boards while perimeter scorers like Martin and Kevin Durant remembering to dive down to snag loose rebounds on every possession. Reggie Jackson knows he must stay aggressive and attack on offense while also working with his teammates to keep the Grizzlies’ Mike Conley out of the paint. Each player on the Thunder has a role on both ends, with the most important focus being on each player’s defensive responsibilities.

“Good teams aren’t good unless they have players that understand their roles,” Brooks said. “And that’s everybody- even your best players- they have to understand their roles. The good thing I like about our team is everybody’s role is to defend.”

With that collective defensive focus and commitment, the Thunder will approach Game Two with the same level of concentration and intensity as Game One. At home at Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Thunder knows it has a wonderful opportunity to go up 2-0 in the series before it heads to Memphis for Games Three and Four. With a one-game, one-possession-at-a-time approach, the Thunder’s greatest emphasis is working together to find a way to be successful and get another precious playoff win.

“Game Two is important because we’re playing in front of our home crowd,” Sefolosha said. “We want to play well for the city, play well for ourselves and get ourselves into good position going to Memphis.”