Fast Break Points- May 26 Notebook
So far in this postseason the Thunder is 3-1 on the road, which in addition to its 21-12 mark during the regular season away from home, gives the Thunder a 65 percent winning percentage outside of Oklahoma City this season. It’s a challenge for a young team to play with poise on the road, but that’s what the Thunder has been able to do and hopes to continue to do in its series against the San Antonio Spurs. The one-seeded Spurs were tied for the NBA’s best home record in the regular season and are a perfect 4-0 at home in the Playoffs, but the Thunder is excited for the challenge.
“We know it’s hard to win on the road in this league in the regular season and it’s very difficult in the Playoffs, but you have to go out there and play,” Head Coach Scott Brooks said. “You have to play with everything you have. You have to make sure that you always have the team in mind and offensively, you have to make some shots. We’ve had some success making shots. San Antonio has not lost at home pretty much all year. We know that we’re going to have to play well, but we also feel that they’re going to have to play well to beat us.”
For the nucleus of 23-year olds like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant along with 22-year olds James Harden and Serge Ibaka, road Playoff basketball could be a tough test. Now in its seventh Playoff series in the past three seasons, the Thunder has built a better understanding of what it takes to win on an opponent’s court in the postseason. With that knowledge, Durant believes all his team can do is take the challenge head on and compete as a unit.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s a great opportunity for us,” Durant said. “It’s the same spot we were in last year but we’re more experienced and a different team. We just have to take advantage of this opportunity. It’s going to be fun. San Antonio is an unbelievable team that we really respect, but we’re going to go down and compete.”
Below are the Fast Break Points from Saturday's practice as the Thunder prepares for Game 1 in its Western Conference Finals matchup against the San Antonio Spurs.
- Brooks said that everybody on the team is healthy and that Serge Ibaka is totally recovered from his flu-like symptoms that limited him on Friday.
- In regards to getting corner three pointers, Brooks said that it doesn’t matter who it plays, the Thunder needs to run to the corners. If you don’t have a layup in transition, running to the corner just helps the spacing and helps the concepts flow and puts a lot of pressure on the defense because they have to get back and defend that. It’s the easiest read in the game and it’s a high-percentage shot, as most teams shoot in the high 30’s or low 40’s from that spot.
-According to Brooks, both Tim Duncan and Kevin Durant are incredible players and from what he’s heard and read Duncan is an amazing guy off the court and Durant is like that too. Brooks said Durant is a terrific young man that believes in team, community and has been raised well.
-Brooks said that the Spurs have a deep team with Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw, Manu Ginobili and DeJuan Blair. All the minutes the Thunder plays, it has to play well in this series, which means 240 minutes total and 48 minutes per position. All the guys are going to have to play those minutes as hard as possible to beat this Spurs.
-When asked about James Harden and Manu Ginobili, Brooks said there were definitely a lot of similarities between the two. He believes they are both incredible playmakers, incredible scorers and incredible competitors. “That’s what sets them apart, their competitiveness,” Brooks said. He then continued with a joke, saying that as a very average right handed player, it was hard guarding lefties, but truthfully he had trouble guarding both righties and lefties. Brooks continued to say that both Harden and Ginobili can go right but also get back to their strong hand, and Harden has worked on finishing with his right hand.