Humble Thunder Continues Work Toward Opening Night
One of the Thunder's core principles is humility. It it a big reason why Thunder players let their actions speak instead of actual words.
“We have a lot of talented players who work hard every single day. Guys staying after practice to work and better themselves," Thunder guard James Harden said. "We don’t like to talk about it; we just go out there, work hard and prove it.”
That work ethic has been on display in games and in practice since the Thunder’s arrival in Oklahoma City. It is because of that standard that Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks predicted on Thursday that Friday’s practice would be better than the day before.
“I thought today was one of our best practices,” he told reporters after the workout. “They came back and they were sharp, they were focused, they got after it. It was a good practice from the start to the very end.”
Practice time is even more precious this season since there is so little of it. A shortened training camp and a compressed schedule make for fewer practice sessions.
"We have to make sure we’re focused every day and today we were,” Brooks said.
Added Harden: “Today was a solid practice. We got after it a little bit. We’re getting better at transition. Our first game, we’re going to have a tough challenge stopping Dwight (Howard).”
The Orlando Magic and Howard will be the opening night opponent inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. Game time is 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.
“It’s our first real game, so I think everyone is excited,” Harden said. "The jitters are going to be there, but I think after the first couple of minutes guys will relax and play their games.”
Brooks said some of Friday’s practice was devoted specifically to the game plan against the Magic.
“Orlando will try to spread you out as much as they can and they will be a tremendous test with the shooters they put on the floor," he said. "And then one of the best big men that rolls and catches and gets above the rim; (Dwight Howard) gets to the rim as quickly as anybody in the league.”
Kendrick Perkins will draw much of the defensive assignment against Howard but others will pitch in on that duty. Brooks said the Thunder will not shy away from its offensive game plan just because Howard is patrolling the paint.
“You still have to play to your strengths,” he said. “Now, we can’t continually go in there knowing that he’s around the rim blocking our shots, you have to drive to the basket and drop off if he helps and if not, you have to go strong to the basket. ... You have to bring your best stuff (against Howard). You can’t go in there with anything weak. You have to bring you’re 'A' game.”