Thunder Feeling Good About Saturday

The Oklahoma City Thunder has spent the last two days working as hard in practice as they have all season. Players say they plan to transfer all that energy to the game on Saturday.

“We’ve competed against each other really well this week in practice,” Thunder forward Kevin Durant told reporters after Thursday’s workout. “We always try to get better at that, competing against each other, because if we do against each other in practice then we’re going to do it against another team. So I think our preparation has been good.”

KD’s head coach took it a step further.

“Today was very good,” Scott Brooks said. “Our effort and intensity was great. We just want to keep playing good basketball. We want to focus in and do what we have to do.”

Thunder power forward Nick Collison was a big part of Tuesday night’s win. He played 17 straight minutes at one point in the game and 25 total.

“I think I actually played 45 minutes in an overtime game once so I’ve done it before,” Collison said of his extended minutes, “I felt pretty good that night and I think I can do it again.”

He may have to, his defense on Memphis star Zach Randolph was a major key to winning the game.

“I just wanted to keep his catches further out on the block and try to be physical with him. He’s gonna score, he’s gonna make shots his gonna be tough in all the rest of the games because I’m sure he feels like he can play better so I just have to continue to try to compete.”

The job Collison and his teammates did on Randolph and Grizzlies' center Marc Gasol has given them confidence that they will be able to shut that duo down again.

“(Tuesday night) helps us a lot,” said Durant. “Those two guys are great players and they’re going to make some adjustments as individuals as well but we just have to keep playing hard and keep plugging up the paint, make them see multiple defenders. If we do that we’ll give ourselves a good chance.”

Both teams know each other very well now after having played twice in the playoffs, four times in the regular season and once in the pre-season. Each team has given and absorbed a body blow from the other. So now the rest of the series could come down to which teams come out with the most energy, effort and intensity.

“That’s always the big factor,” agreed Brooks. “When you come out you have to play extremely hard and play with the amount of intensity that it takes to win and then you have to execute.”

And most would probably agree that effort and execution go together. If you bring more intensity and work harder than the other guy you’re probably going to execute the offense and defense better.

“Last game we did a great job of coming out and playing with great effort and we did a great job of executing,” confirmed the head coach. “Execution is a big part of playoff basketball, you have to take care of the possessions you can’t have dead possessions on offense. You can’t give up layups on defense and the team that does that usually wins.”

Saturday afternoon should be no different.

Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. inside FedEx Forum. You can watch the action on ESPN or listen in on the Thunder Radio Network.