Thunder "Family" Staying Together and Focused
There were three different stretches during Monday night’s Game 5 where the Thunder could have broken down, according to Head Coach Scott Brooks. They stuck together, however, and eventually won 108-103 thanks to the team persevering as what James Harden called, “a family”.
The next step for the Thunder is now immediately moving on to an important Game 6 at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday night. In order to compartmentalize and forget about last night’s game, the Thunder will have to continue to use its bond with one another to stick together through good times and bad in order to approach Game 6 with the right focus.
“That’s the sign of a strong family,” Brooks said. “We believe in that, we talk about it and our guys really displayed that unity last night to really have a lasting effect on who we are as a team. I’m proud of the way they responded during that time.”
Throughout the season the Thunder has done a nice job of moving on to the next play, the next possession and the next game without dwelling on the past or looking ahead to the future. With a core of 23 and 22-year olds, steadying presences like Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison and Derek Fisher, along with Brooks’ tutelage have helped the Thunder learn how to process tough losses and big wins alike.
“We’ve kind of talked about it throughout the years that you have to (move on),” Brooks said. “You can’t get too high, you can’t get too down. You have to just focus on staying in the moment. Our guys have always done a good job with that. I believe that they do a great job of just really staying in the moment and playing every day as the most important day.”
Fisher, who has won five championships and played in 223 Playoff games during his 15-year career spoke to that very attitude on Monday night after the game. During this Playoff run, the Thunder has had to face the defending champions who defeated them in the Western Conference Finals last season in the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers who won the title in 2009 and 2010, and now face the Spurs, perhaps the most efficient and effective team in the NBA. Despite all the challenges, the Thunder has taken them one at a time and simply focused on what it can control.
“We did not get too low or too down on ourselves when we lost a game and we are not getting overly excited or too high emotionally after winning a game,” Fisher said. “We are just showing up the next night to play and try to give ourselves a chance to win.”
What is always within the Thunder’s control is its effort. Whether the ball goes through the hoop and whether it bounces the right way is unpredictable, but if Brooks’ squad brings the same level of intensity, concentration and dedication to doing the little things on Wednesday, it will give itself a chance to succeed. As a result, the Thunder will dedicate all of its resources and attention to honing in on the way to beat the Spurs in Game 6.
“We’re worried about playing good basketball tomorrow night on our home floor,” Brooks said. “Game 6 is all that matters to us. Nothing else… The only pressure that we always have on ourselves is to play as hard as you can and play for your teammates. We talk about that constantly and that is not going to change.”