Thunder Knows Game 1 Was Just One Game
The Thunder certainly had plenty to be happy about after Monday night’s 119-90 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the teams' best-of-seven, second-round series. However, that resounding victory is only one of the four wins the Thunder needs to advance in this Playoffs.
“It’s just one game,” said Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who had 27 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in 27 minutes Monday night. “Game 2 is going to be a totally different game. We have to come out with the same intensity.”
Head Coach Scott Brooks said his team watched a lot of film and pointed out the things that it needed to get better during Tuesday’s practice. The Thunder shot a little bit and shot free throws, but it was mainly a big film-room day to prepare for Game 2 on Wednesday night.
Guard Thabo Sefolosha is a big proponent of film study. He has spent his time studying Kobe Bryant’s habits and preferred spots on the floor. Sefolosha said no one is going to remember Game 1 come Wednesday night.
“It’s going to be a long series,” Sefolosha said. “We take this game for what it is. It’s just one win regardless of the score and anything. We’re going back into Game 2 at 0-0, and we have to do it again.”
While that mentality wouldn’t be surprising to hear from Brooks and veterans like Nazr Mohammed and Derek Fisher, the Thunder is full of players who understand Playoff basketball. Even 22- and 23-year-olds like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka have exhibited a one-game-at-a-time mindset, making veterans like Mohammed’s job much easier when doling out advice.
“I don’t have to say anything, we have some great young guys,” Mohammed said. “These guys as far as their basketball maturity and the way they handle success and failures, they’re better than most older guys (are).”
Fisher, playing against his former Lakers teammates now, has now spent a couple months with the Thunder. During his time with the team he has recognized the developing mental fortitude of the guys on the team and the overall organizational focus on controlling what it can on a day-by-day, game-by-game, possession-by-possession basis. That attitude moving forward will be important to keep the team from getting too high off a great win like Monday night and too low off a tough loss.
“This is a pretty intelligent, smart team,” Fisher said. “Even though age-wise we’re young, they know how to manage themselves on a day-to-day basis. I didn’t have to say much about last night. We basically just did what we were supposed to do in a sense, and that’s win our home game. The score doesn’t really matter. It’s 1-0. It’s all irrelevant if we don’t come out tomorrow and figure out a way to win tomorrow’s game. That’s pretty much what we talked about today.”
The Lakers are only two years removed from winning the NBA Championship, and have players like Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum who not only have incredible skill, but a ton of pride. This series is far from over, and the Thunder to a man realizes that Game 2 will be an entirely different game.
“We realize that it was a great game by us,” Mohammed said. “They didn’t play their best game. We can’t get too happy from this. We have to be proud of ourselves for defending our home, but we also have to go out there and defend our home tomorrow night.”