GAME PREVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
May 15th, 2013
GAME 5: Thunder vs Grizzlies

Being down in a series is tough, but the key to clawing back is staying in the moment.

Despite trailing 3-1 in its second round series against the Memphis Grizzlies and needing to win three straight games to close out the series, the Thunder realizes that it can only control what is right in front of itself. Tonight, that is simply worrying about doing everything in its power to win Game Five at Chesapeake Energy Arena. If Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club can do that, it can extend the series and over the past two days, that’s what Brooks has told his team.

“The message was simple,” Brooks said. “We’re getting to play in our home building and we love playing here. All we have to do is worry about winning one game. Our guys are excited about that opportunity.”

Behind leaders like Kevin Durant, the Thunder has remained steady in face of adversity this season and over the past few days. Never getting too high or too low, but rather staying calm and relying upon the principles that got it to this point is what the Thunder has done to remain consistent. Despite falling just short in the closing minutes of the last three games, the Thunder has given itself a chance to win all of them. As a result, the Thunder is set and ready to continue battling to try to get a win.

“Our spirits are up,” Durant said. “We’re a team that has always been resilient and always persevered through things and fought until the end. We’ll continue to keep fighting. We have a great opportunity on our home floor.”

Since arriving in Oklahoma City the Thunder has faced difficult circumstances and obstacles that have challenged it to make adjustments, come together as a unit and dig deeper to be successful. The organization has over the past five years been defined by the internal standards it has set for work ethic, its will to play at its highest level of effort and the team’s collective mental toughness. All of those experiences have allowed the squad to remain strong.

“It helps us a lot,” Durant said. “We’ve been through situations, it’s not like we’re always up 3-0 or up 3-1 in a series. We’ve been down before. We just have to fight and claw each possession of the game and feed off our home crowd and try to get this W.”

Keeping turnovers low, boxing out to prevent second chance opportunities and playing its physical brand of defense will be imperative to giving itself a chance to win tonight. What has allowed the Thunder to be successful in those areas in the first four games has been the intensity, focus, concentration and communication it has displayed for all 48 minutes. While the ball may not have bounced its way in the last three games as it did in the first game, the Thunder likes its chances if it gives itself a chance in the closing minutes again tonight.

“If we still play with that energy and that effort and that commitment to getting a win, we feel very confident tonight,” Brooks said.