Thunder Ready for Another Mavericks Showdown

If tonight’s game against the Dallas Mavericks is anything like the first two meetings this season, Thunder fans will be in for an exhilarating contest. The Thunder has won in overtime twice this year against the Mavericks and knows it must bring its best effort tonight.

Regardless of whether the Thunder wins or loses, the team will analyze what areas of the game were positive and which parts need improvement. A large percentage of the Thunder’s self-analysis comes on the defensive end, where it is most intent on being the best it possibly can be on every possession. With the help of the Thunder’s coaching and support staff, the players have wonderful access to self-scout and prepare for its upcoming opponent.

“One of the things about our team, we always try to figure out ways to get better,” Brooks said. “We’ve always done that and it’s not going to change.”

While team leaders like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, along with veterans Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison and Thabo Sefolosha, are able to lead the group in understanding what went well and what didn’t after each game, it is up to Brooks to steer the ship. A dynamic head coach, Brooks knows how to motivate and educate his players at the same time, propelling them to new heights. As with everything, those jumps in performance start on the defensive end.

“We pride ourselves on defense so we have to do a better job of blocking out, getting rebounds and playing together,” Durant said.

Throughout the course of the two Thunder wins over the Mavericks this season, the Thunder has played its own style, but there was always room for tactical changes that helped them get the victory. That chess-match between Brooks and the Mavericks’ Rick Carlisle will continue tonight between the two teams whose familiarity with one another is extremely high.

“We know what they like to do and vice-a-versa,” Brooks said. “We know how they like to substitute and I’m sure he (Rick Carlisle) knows how we do. It’s always about effort and execution and putting ourselves in a position to make shots on offense with extra passes and good spacing. Defensively it’s always about five guys being engaged in a defensive stance and really focusing in on stopping your man.”

Brooks emphasized that the Thunder must control the Mavericks’ fast break points, while Durant also added that the team must contest all jump shots and not allow second chance points. Despite the fact that the Thunder has won eight straight matchups against Dallas, the I-35 rivals always play a tight game, as evidenced by the two overtime games so far this season.

“They always play us well,” Durant said. “We always have battles every game. I don’t think either team has been blown out in the last three years. It’s always a tough battle. We have to be ready to play.”