Thunder Preparing for Tough Game 5 Challenge
Winning 109-103 on Saturday night in Game 4 against San Antonio was a special moment for the team, as Serge Ibaka went for a career-high 26 points on 11-for-11 shooting and Kevin Durant spectacularly closed the game with 16 straight points. All of that has been put behind the Thunder, however, who realizes its biggest challenge still lays a two-hour plane ride away.
“The last two games at home we did a good job of playing good basketball,” Brooks said. “We know now we have to take it on the road. In order to advance you have to win one road game. We have a great opportunity in Game 5. We know they’re going to come out and play their best basketball game. We have to be able to do the same.”
The passionate Oklahoma City fan base rocked the gym in Games 3 and 4, aiding the Thunder in its 102-82 victory on Thursday night and again on Saturday. However, the Thunder knows that the Spurs home crowd can be rowdy as well and will be particularly amped up for what will be a hotly contested Game 5 in a series where both teams are undefeated at home in the Playoffs. As a result, the Thunder is aware that the Spurs will throw their hardest punch Monday night at the AT&T Center.
“They (Thunder fans) did their job, we did our job and now we have to move onto San Antonio and try to get a win there,” Brooks said. “You have to win one at their place. We have two opportunities, but we’re not looking ahead to Game 6 or Game 7. We’re focusing on Game 5. We have a great opportunity ahead of us but we have to play a great game to beat them.”
“We know we’re going to have to play well,” Brooks continued. “They’re going to give us their best game and we have to be able to handle that and fight through it.”
Brooks’ squad has been solid on the road all season, going 21-12 during the regular season and 3-1 away from home through the first two Playoff series this year before dropping Games 1 and 2 to the Spurs in these Western Conference Finals. In order to win the series, the Thunder knows it must take one of the games in San Antonio, and is looking to do exactly that less than 36 hours from now.
“We know what is at stake and we have to go out there and play physically, play our game and just fight through all the emotions that they will have with their home crowd,” Brooks said. “We understand that you have to play well on the road and you have to play together and you have to play with a lot of energy and force. Our guys have enough to do it.”
Most of all, the Thunder as a team is simply excited to get back out on the floor and to continue playing the way it knows it can. Flying around the court with a tangible verve and with precision, the Thunder made the right plays on offense and stayed committed to the team’s defensive scheme and principles throughout Games 3 and 4. It will have to replicate that effort, focus and intensity in Game 5 if it hopes to give itself a chance to win and wrestle away control of the series.
“It’s a three-game series, the first team to win two out of those three moves on to the NBA Finals and we’re excited about it,” Brooks said. “It’s a great opportunity. We know that we have two good teams playing and competing and battling every possession, and our guys are excited.”