Thunder Awaits Second Round Opponent with Scrimmages
On Friday, the Thunder took to the practice court once again with the same focus and determination that it has since its Game 4 win over the Dallas Mavericks last Saturday night to close out its Round 1, 4-0 victory. As it continues to await the winner of the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers series which now sits at 3-3, the Thunder has still practiced with vigor and force. Guard Derek Fisher has been energized by the way the Thunder players get after each other in its daily scrimmages, in addition to the camaraderie the team shares.
“What is fun about this team is there is still a certain intensity and competitiveness between the guys that exists,” Fisher said.
One thing the Thunder does know for sure is that Game 1 of its series against either the Lakers or Nuggets will be on Monday night at 8:30pm at Chesapeake Energy Arena, a nine day gap between games. With that in mind, Head Coach Scott Brooks can plan the weekend better and get the team into a rhythm heading into its second round series opener. The Thunder has been watching the Lakers and Nuggets series intently, focusing on potential matchups, but doesn’t have a preference as to which team it plays.
By the time Monday rolls around, the Thunder knows that which team they play doesn’t matter, but the work it has put in over the past week on itself and the things it can control will be tremendously important. That attitude with which the Thunder has attacked its practice sessions has been a revelation to Fisher.
“Being on a veteran team the last couple years, that’s something where practice wasn’t always the most energetic,” Fisher said “Being on a young team that plays with a lot of passion, as close as these guys are, it gets tense out there in practice. That part has been good. That’s what you need to keep everybody at a certain level.”
Below are the Fast Break Points from Friday's practice as the Thunder awaits its Round 2 Playoff opponent.
- Coach Brooks said that the days off are helping the team going into its next series. The Thunder is having sharp, crisp practices. The team has kept itself busy and sharp by getting after each other in practice. Brooks has mixed it up in practice, changing the teams and lineups around. A fresh feel for the drills is important each day, and the guys love to get after each other and to get under each other’s skin. Brooks said today’s practice was outstanding. Did a lot of scrimmaging, did a lot of touch up work on the offensive and defensive end.
- Kendrick Perkins did the same things today with treatment with the medical team. He looked good but is still day-to-day. Brooks said he was moving around pretty well but the team still won’t know until after he responds each successive day. Perkins won’t go on the court if he’s not able to play as Brooks and the staff won’t put him in that tough position. Derek Fisher said that they don’t want to rush Perkins coming back and are thinking about his long-term health and long-term impact on the team.
- Russell Westbrook said that Coach Brooks has been doing a great job of pushing the team, keeping them in shape and staying sharp on their assignments. Westbrook said the team had another long day of scrimmaging and competing but he’s anxious to play a real game because he doesn’t like to watch all these other teams playing.
- Both Westbrook and Fisher agreed that they didn’t have a preference as to which team the Thunder plays in Round 2. The Lakers and Nuggets are both good teams and it doesn’t matter either way. Westbrook said the Thunder has played against both team but it would be fun to see his family in LA. The Thunder has practiced on defenses for both opponents.
- Fisher said that he has been in this position a few times in terms of having a number of days off. It’s fortunate because it means the Thunder has taken care of business and the team deserves the rest. Regardless of who the Thunder faces, it will have to get right back to work.
- Fisher also talked about the competition at the Integris Health Thunder Development Center. The team has had training camp type practices. The intensity and energy is up and the team is doing the best job it can do, but there’s nothing like a game. Once Monday comes, they’ll just have to find a way to get some rhythm.
- Watching the Lakers play is a unique position for Fisher, but he is watching tendencies and things they want to utilize. He has been using this time to prepare just like the rest of his teammates. Regardless of who the Thunder’s opponent is, the team has staples and a foundation it can stick to.