Thunder Preparing for Finals Matchup
The Thunder closed out its Western Conference Finals victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 two nights ago and will host Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night against either the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat. Brooks, his staff and the Thunder players will all use this time wisely to both rest appropriately, prepare and sharpen things up.
“It was just nice to relax for a day and now it’s time to get back to work,” Brooks said. “We’ve been studying as staff Boston and Miami. We find out tomorrow. Both teams are very talented, very good, they both present a lot of problems, but we’re excited about the opportunity. It’s a great challenge for us. We’re looking forward to Tuesday night.”
Brooks’ crew is now used to having a number of days off in between series, with long layoffs between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers series and the same between the Lakers and Spurs series. With the team’s history of solid preparation during those times in hand, the Thunder can use the tested blueprint in order to gear up for what looks to be a tough, hard-fought Finals.
“I think the rest that we’ve had between every series helps,” Brooks said. “It helps us prepare, it helps us get ready for the next series, it helps us to put in certain things that we think are going to be effective against our opponent on both ends of the floor. We’re ready to get back. Today is a recovery day. I’m sure most of our guys, if not all of our guys will be here today getting shots, getting treatment, getting weight work in. Then tomorrow we’ll start.”
The Celtics-Heat series is headed for a Game 7 in Miami after the Celtics and Heat won on one another’s home floors in the past two contests. While the Celtics have championship experience with its unit in Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, the Heat also have the prolific talents of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and the NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade. Both teams, the Thunder realize, will be a challenge.
“You have to prepare for both equally,” Brooks said. “When we finally know, you just have to get ready for one team. You have to prepare for both teams, both teams have won on each other’s home floor.”
During these next few days the Thunder will watch film on both the Celtics and Heat’s last few series, the games the Thunder played against both teams this season. Brooks said that it’s a lot of work for the video guys and assistant coaches because they must break down both teams’ sideline out of bounds plays, baseline plays, end of game plays, free throw plays and maybe even jump ball plays. All that film study will be digested by the coaching staff and in practice and worked through in practice with the players.
“You have to always be prepared for what they have,” Brooks said. “You always look at how other teams guard their pick-and-roll, how they guard their post ups because they might have found something that we don’t usually use but we can always throw that in.”
While game planning against either the Celtics or Heat will be of the utmost importance, the Thunder also realizes that its own play is what has gotten it here to this point. As a result, the team has confidence that if it executes its own style and manner of play to the fullest, it will give itself a great chance to succeed. Those core principles include playing tough, intelligent team defense along with aggressive, unselfish, cooperative offense.
“We’re always about defense, we’re focusing on the defensive end of the floor,” Brooks said. “Offensively, if we can continue moving the ball like we have throughout the playoffs, we’ll be pretty good offensively.”