Thunder Sticking Together Heading into Game 3
On Wednesday, after a tough 120-111 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder returned to the Integris Health Thunder Development Center for a team meeting, where it addressed the mentality and mindset necessary to attack Game 3 on Thursday night.
“We had a good meeting, we talked about some things that we have to do better and understand where we are,” Brooks said. “We’ve always (known) going into the Playoffs that it’s the first team that wins four. You only focus on the game at hand. Tomorrow night’s game is the most important game. That’s what we’ve done all year, taking a one game at a time approach and we have to do that tomorrow night.”
While pointing to pick-and-roll defense or execution on offense are important aspects of finding better ways to out-play the Spurs on a possession-by-possession basis, veteran guard Derek Fisher said there is another aspect to the Thunder’s Game 3 approach. At some point, Fisher said, it comes down to a team’s will to win, the desire and depth of intensity to take the game with force.
“As we closed today, one of the things we talked about was just that you can talk about x’s and o’s and adjustments and rotations and all those things,” Fisher said. “But at the end of the day, sometimes it’s just that you have to want it. How you define that, how you lay that out as a game plan I don’t know, but when you want it bad enough you figure it out. We have to want it bad enough come tomorrow night in order to figure it out.”
In order to problem solve and discover ways to beat a very good team like the Spurs, it takes a full commitment from everyone on the team, and the organization. According to Brooks, that is no problem for the Thunder, whose young nucleus is clearly tied together beyond simply wearing the same color jersey. From communicating with one another or spending extra time together discussing strategy, the Thunder has a group that is focused solely on winning each game.
“All of our guys are in,” Brooks said. “They’re all in and we know that’s what they do. That’s how our team has improved throughout the years, just staying together and sticking together through good and tough times.”
13-point deficits in Game 4’s against the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers weren’t too much to faze the Thunder earlier this postseason, as both times Brooks’ squad rallied back to win the game. Guard James Harden, instrumental in both efforts to overcome adversity and wrestle control of games, said that those previous efforts laid the groundwork as an example of what the Thunder hopes to do in the rest of this series, starting in Game 3.
“That’s what we’ve been doing this entire year and this entire postseason, sticking together, no matter what,” Harden said. “Being down late in games, coming back and fighting and winning. They won two games on their home court, so we have an unbelievable opportunity to come here in Game 3 and win and play well. We’re looking forward to it.”