Thunder Concentrating on What it Can Control
While a win tonight would secure the Thunder a berth in the NBA Finals, that is not where the team’s concentration lies. The Thunder knows it is facing a Spurs team that is one of the best in the NBA and is an extremely potent group that won’t back down. At Chesapeake Energy Arena tonight, the Thunder will have to be zoned in solely on what it can control to be successful.
“(We’re) focused, I think we’re in a good place,” Brooks said. “We had a great shootaround. We had a good meeting yesterday. Guys are excited about the opportunity tonight. We know what is at stake. We know that San Antonio is going to come in here and play a great game. … We have a great opportunity just to go out and play our game. We’ve done a good job the last few games and we have to continue that.”
Earlier in the series, center Kendrick Perkins used the phrase, “losing yourself in the team” as a way to describe how the Thunder needed to play in order to win. James Harden used the term “family” to explain the bond the players and the coaching staff have with one another, allowing it to get through tough times and stay settled during good ones.
“Everything has to be about the team,” Durant said. “Everything has to be with the group. That’s something we’ve done throughout this whole Playoffs and this whole year. It’s always been about the team and guys have sacrificed a lot.”
“We’re just headed out there with a mindset that every possession is important,” Durant continued. “That’s the type of approach that we need to take. We’ll just leave everything out on the floor and see what happens.”
The feeling that the Thunder must play hard and focus on every possession for 48 minutes is not a new one, but rather something that has been growing and developing within the Thunder since the team arrived in Oklahoma City. With a roster that has seen some small, but not drastic, changes, the Thunder’s continuity has helped breed a sense of responsibility to one another and to the group to control the one thing that a team can dictate on the court -- effort.
“Play hard and play for your teammates,” Brooks said. “If you do those two things, we can live with the results.”
Whether the ball bounces the right way or into the basket is one thing, and it’s something typically outside a player’s control each night. However, the dedication to proper execution, the commitment to team defensive values and concepts and the energy and effort with which the team plays is all within the hands of the players on this Thunder squad.
“That’s our main focus, concentrating on every possession, how hard we’re playing every possession,” Durant said. “He (Brooks) always says that the easiest thing to do in basketball is play hard, and the hardest thing to do is play well. If we go out there and play hard, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”