Thunder Focusing on Improvement in Rematch with Nuggets

The Oklahoma City Thunder may be the NBA’s Northwest Division Champions, but they will play tonight’s game against the Denver Nuggets like they haven’t earned anything.

“We have to keep getting better,” said Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks. “We have to keep improving. It’s a great opportunity for our organization to focus on how we play and get better these last four games.”

Two-time All-Star Kevin Durant says he won’t be changing anything about the way he plays tonight just because the Thunder have clinched a top four seed in the playoffs.

“Just get better,” he told reporters after shoot-around. “That’s all we wanna do. Get better. Every time we step on the floor we wanna get better.”

Brooks will not make any changes in the amount of minutes he would normally play his starters nor in his rotation.

“Our guys would not want it any different,” he said. “If I cut their minutes or rest them they will find places to play anyway.”

And the Thunder can still improve their playoff seeding. The fourth spot is clinched but the #3 seed is within reach and even the second spot is still possible.

“Of course we want to get as high as we can,” Durant said, “but our main goal is to just get better. If we happen to win games and move up so be it. We’re blessed to get this opportunity.”

The Nuggets will likely bring everything they have to get back at the Thunder for beating them in Denver Tuesday night. Durant will be ready for whatever the Nuggets have to offer.

“I’ve just got to keep being aggressive,” Durant said. “I don’t want to go out there and be too passive when I play my game, but they do a good job. It’s always tough to win against those guys.”

Durant scored 32 points against the Nuggets Tuesday night and 44 against them on Christmas Night in Oklahoma City. The new-look Nuggets bring a different defensive style into the game and in their efforts to guard KD.

“They do a good job just throwing a lot of bodies at him,” Brooks said. “A lot of different type of defenders. Kenyon (Martin), (Wilson) Chandler, Gallo (Danilo Gallinari), so they have multiple defenders but I think Kevin’s done a good job of handling different styles of defenders and he’s a tough cover. But whatever style of defender they put on him Kevin just has to stay aggressive. He’s at his best when he’s aggressive.”

Tuesday night in Denver the Thunder controlled the tempo of the game and slowed Denver’s fast breaking offense. That will again be one of the keys to the game tonight.

“The Nuggets lead the league in scoring and in fast break points, or they’re right up there,” Brooks noted. “They’re as fast as any team in the league and they’re great at pitching ahead and making threes in transition, so yeah we wanna control the pace of the game. We wanna make sure the have to score over five defenders and if we can do that we like our chances.”

If you can’t make it to Oklahoma City Arena for the 7 p.m. tip-off you can watch all the action on Fox Sports Oklahoma or listen in on the Thunder Radio Network.

NOTES:
• In his last two games Thunder center Kendrick Perkins is averaging 15.5 rebounds.
• Since March 9th, Oklahoma City is 13-3. The Chicago Bulls (13-2) are the only team in the NBA with a better record over that same period.
• Also since March 9th, the Thunder is averaging 103.5 points per game on 46.5% shooting while allowing opponents just 95.1 points on 43.4% shooting.
• The Thunder is 13-3 on Friday nights.