GAME 6 PREVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
May 2, 2013
Heading to Houston with One Goal - Win

In the midst of an NBA Playoff series, there can be a temptation on the outside to overreact positively or negatively to each game.

The young but experienced Thunder squad is able to resist that type of thinking because of the confidence it has in its basketball philosophy and in every player in the locker room. Head Coach Scott Brooks' club will analyze and look at every aspect of the game to get better, without losing sight of the big picture. For the vast majority of NBA teams, simply making the Playoffs is a wonderful accomplishment and is valued highly. As a result, the Thunder wants to take full advantage of every moment.

"This is the best time of the year for every organization that is in the playoffs," Brooks said. "You always have hope whether you're up or down. This is what you live for. This is a great opportunity for all of us."

Leading the Houston Rockets 3-2 in a best-of-seven first round series is a good place for the Thunder to be, despite dropping the past two contests and facing a Game Six in Houston on Friday night. At the airport before the team departed for south Texas, Brooks made plain what his team must do in order to close out the series and move forward.

"We just have to play better basketball," Brooks said. "We have to play consistently, tough-minded defensive basketball."

The Rockets have scored over 100 points in each of the past four games, a mark the Thunder does not want in its opponent's scoring column on any night. Fixing mistakes on the defensive end and taking pride in not allowing 30-point quarters will be top of mind for the Thunder on Thursday and Friday morning. In addition, the team wants to capitalize on the areas where it performed well that helped earn those first three wins.

"There are a couple areas that we have to get better with," Brooks said. "Our standards are always very high but we did some good things. We rebounded the ball very well, we didn't turn the ball over much. We're going to make shots. We're getting open looks. I have a lot of confidence in the guys that are taking them."

Shot-making will also be a key for the Thunder moving forward, considering that sometimes in the Playoffs basketball simply becomes about who makes shots and who doesn't. Despite shooting poorly from the perimeter in Game 5, every man on the Thunder trusts and believes in their teammates to knock down their next shot.

Because of veterans like Kendrick Perkins, Derek Fisher, Nick Collison and Kevin Durant, the Thunder has quality experience to lean upon in order to maintain poise team-wide between games. A calm, consistent and focused mentality is required heading into Game Six in order for the Thunder to close out the Rockets and advance to the Western Conference Semi-finals.

"We have good players that have been through this before," Brooks said. "We know we have to play better. But we also know we're up 3-2. Short term goal is to win tomorrow night."

"Our focus is on just regrouping, figuring out some of the things that we can improve on and keep doing the things that we've done pretty well the last few games and do it for 48 minutes," Brooks concluded.