GAME PREVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
May 13th, 2013
GAME 4: Thunder at Grizzlies

MEMPHIS – The Thunder trails its best-of-seven series against the Memphis Grizzlies 2-1, but has put itself in position to win every single contest.

Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club has used a strong defensive presence, ball control and a full team focus to rebound on the defensive end to be either tied or in the lead in the final two minutes of each of the first three games. Regardless of whether the ball splashes through the net or rims out on the offensive end, the Thunder will put itself in position to close out the game by continuing to keep turnovers low and preventing the Grizzlies’ from getting second chance opportunities.

“I’m proud of our guys’ effort,” Brooks said. “I’m proud of our guys’ commitment to continue to compete and keep putting ourselves in a position to win.”

Those little things are what the Thunder can control, along with the level of intensity, communication and focus that it brings to start the game and throughout every possession. Team leaders like Kevin Durant and Nick Collison have helped the team learn the skill of staying in the moment and maintaining composure throughout the game.

“I think we just try to come into the game with as much energy as we can, and as much focus as we can,” Collison said. “That’s the best way to come in as a player and have a clear mind and be ready to execute.”

“You have to just continue to play the next play and not get too high or too low,” Collison continued. “Hopefully in the end you’ll come out on top.”

While the team wants to learn from the mistakes it made in all three games thus far, it also wants to analyze the areas where it was successful in order to replicate that performance in Game Four tonight at the FedEx Forum in downtown Memphis. That ever-important ability to keep the entire squad’s attention on the task at hand as opposed to looking back at previous games or ahead too far will be just as essential tonight for the Thunder as it has been all season.

“It’s always been that the next 48 minutes are the most important,” Brooks said. “We know that we’re going to have to do a lot of things well. We’re going to have to continue to play defense, continue to rebound, continue to contest their shots.”

With a win, the Thunder can tie the series at 2-2 and re-claim home court advantage, effectively turning this into a best-of-three series with two games at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Even if the ball bounces the wrong way for the Thunder tonight, it will maintain the same determined mindset. Behind the leadership of Durant and others, the Thunder knows what it must do in order to be successful and understands that it will take a team playing together, committed to the same principles, in order to get a win.

“We feel confident that we’re going to come in and play our game and play our brand of basketball,” Durant said. “We’re just trying to take it a possession at a time. We know this game is going to be tough; it’s going to be a grind out type of game. We know that. We’re looking forward to going out here and trying to even this thing up.”