Fast Break Points- June 11 Notebook
The core of this Thunder team is relatively young and features three major offensive weapons in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. However, all three of those players realize that the Thunder plays its best basketball when it plays as a team and as a unit with togetherness and toughness. The continuity the organization has had over the past four years since moving to Oklahoma City has helped breed a dedication to one another, according to Head Coach Scott Brooks.
“One thing I love about our guys is that it’s always about the team,” Brooks said. “That’s all we’ve known. We were coming up together, that was all we had, the group of guys in the locker room to support one another… We kind of just stuck together as a team and we don’t look at it as big one, big two or big three.”
As one collective group that operates as one, the Thunder now face its toughest task to date. Going up against the Miami Heat, runner-ups in last year’s NBA Finals will be a challenge that tests both the Thunder’s defensive capabilities and team effort, but also the way it operates and executes on the offensive end.
“We will embrace this challenge,” Brooks said. “We’re not here just to be here. We’re here to win a championship. That was our goal all season long, just like 29 other teams. We know it will be a long and hard process. I think our guys have basically hit every step along the way. They’re not ones to try to get there quickly and do it the wrong way. They’re here to work for it, they’re going to keep improving.”
Below are the Fast Break Points from Monday's practice:
-Brooks said Russell Westbrook is getting better every game. We would not be in this position if it wasn’t for Russell. He’s helped us and he’s taken us to this level.
-Brooks said there are a lot of days in the summer that you have to work, not just seven days. I have a lot of respect for LeBron (James), I’m assuming he’s a worker just like Kevin. You don’t get to the level that they are because they are athletic and talented, it’s through work.
-Brooks said that he grew up watching the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals in the 1980’s when he was growing up. He didn’t remember individual matchups, but rather the fact that all of those teams had each other’s backs no matter what.
-Brooks said that Durant doesn’t want to be a one-way player, and he’s determined to be a special player in the league. Brooks said Durant leads the team on the defensive end and that the Thunder is a team that is a defensive squad with Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, Westbrook, Durant and Thabo Sefolosha.
-Durant said that visiting the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial is important, and that the team wants to know the history of what happened in the city and how everyone moved past it. He said that the city got closer and closer and is a tight-knit family. When the team arrived, it made the area even closer.
-Durant said that this isn’t him versus LeBron (James), it’s the Thunder versus the Heat. It’s going to be all about the team and it’s going to be fun. He just focuses on what he needs to do and what the Thunder needs to do as a team.
-Both Durant and Westbrook talked about the fact that the youth doesn’t matter in this series. Durant said that his mom told him from an early age never to let his age be a reason that he doesn’t succeed. Westbrook said that the youth of the team has been thrown out the window, and that the Thunder have played in a lot of big games before.
-Durant on the maturity the Thunder showed in the Western Conference Finals: “We came out and just played extremely hard and we took it to another level as far as just playing as hard as we can. Everybody on our team did that. I think that’s a level that we’re going to need to play at for this series as well… That series got better for us as the games went along and we started to make adjustments and we grew up a little bit.”