Fast Break Points - June 12 Notebook
The Thunder has been awaiting its NBA Finals matchup since nearly a week ago, when it erased a 2-0 series deficit against San Antonio and won four in a row to oust the Spurs and advance from the Western Conference Finals.
Tuesday morning, hours before the Thunder tips off Game 1 of the organization’s first NBA Finals appearance since the team came to Oklahoma City, Head Coach Scott Brooks explained the style of play he hopes his team displays against the Miami Heat.
“When we move it and share the ball, and have good spacing and find great shots, we’re tough to guard,” Brooks said. “It always comes down to playing tough, physical basketball for us.”
Guard Russell Westbrook is often the engine for the Thunder, leading from the front on both the offensive and defensive ends with his tenacity, aggressiveness and motor. Looking like a man whose sole focus was on the impending game tonight, Westbrook said he and his Thunder teammates stuck to their normal rhythm during today’s shootaround.
“We’ve been waiting for a while, both teams had the opportunity to rest a little bit, so it should be fun,” Westbrook said. “(Today) was just like any other. (We) don’t change anything. We come in and go over their team and get ready to play tonight.”
Below are the Fast Break Points from Tuesday's shootaround:
- Serge Ibaka on what the Thunder organization means to him: “It means a lot, because first of all, I remember the first time I came here, I didn’t know if I’d be in the NBA or the D-League. But they trusted me and they believed in me and I gave it back, too. I work hard every single day and that’s why they trust me. That means a lot to me.”
- Westbrook said the Thunder will have to see how the Heat defend, but the Thunder will continue to play its game and spread the floor. Defensively, there are a lot of things can be keys, but the Thunder just has to play hard tonight.
- Brooks said that come 8 o’clock tonight, there will be no distractions besides playing good basketball, focusing on each other and their team and taking care of what they need to do to play well against the Heat.
- Brooks said the Heat is a very talented team at getting to the basket with players who can put the ball on the floor. It’s always been the Thunder’s philosophy to take away the paint. It’s not going to be easy because the Heat can make threes as well.
- Brooks said the Thunder wants to get steals, blocks and stops so they don’t have to take the ball out of the net on defense. Ibaka said the Thunder will try its best to protect the basket and the paint because when the Heat gets easy buckets they get energy and confidence.
- Brooks said that it’s definitely a bit of a difference if Chris Bosh or Shane Battier starts for the Heat, but Serge Ibaka is going to defend the same way regardless. Brooks also praised Thabo Sefolosha’s defense and ability to move onto the next play defensively in addition to his ability to knock down shots on the offensive end.
- Brooks said that when the Thunder goes small, Kevin Durant is a big small. In those situations, there is one more shooter and ball-handler on the floor, but the Thunder has won games with both their big and small lineups. Brooks believes his team is at its best when it utilizes both lineups.
- Brooks said that he is confident in the work that Westbrook has put in and that he does more than score baskets for the team. Westbrook has done a good job of controlling the game with his passing and leadership in addition to defending and rebounding.