Fast Break Points- May 25 Notebook

Boxing out, rebounding and running with a purpose and proper spacing helped lead the Thunder to 30 fast break points in its Game 5 win against the Los Angeles Lakers, and Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team hopes to do more of the same in Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs. The Thunder has the ability to play multiple different styles offensively, but scoring transition buckets can really give the offense a boost.

“We’re a good transition team. We can win many different ways,” Brooks said. “That’s a strength of our team. We can run and score with the best of them, or we can score in the half court and play physical, half court Playoff basketball. We like to do both, we like to defend and we like to run with a purpose. We like to run with good spacing and we’ve done a good job with that, and also in the turnover department all Playoffs long, and we have to continue that.”

Guard James Harden, who helps lead the break by looking for outlet passes and pushing tempo, believes that its important for the Thunder to use its speed and athleticism to get better looks at the rim. As the Thunder knows from getting back quickly to force other teams to play half-court offense, it’s always good for a team to get chances at the hoop before the opponents’ defense gets set.

“That’s one of the strengths of this team,” Harden said. “We have so many guys that can push the ball in transition and make plays, it’s unbelievable. We just have to rebound. That’s one of the keys to our offense, getting the ball on the rebound and pushing in transition. Obviously, any team doesn’t want to play against a half-court defense, so that’s one of the keys.”

Below are the Fast Break Points from Friday's practice as the Thunder prepares for Game 1 in its Western Conference Finals matchup against the San Antonio Spurs.

- Brooks said that each team in the Playoffs presents a different type of challenge and the Thunder has done a good job of tackling the previous two. Now, the team has to try to do the same in this series against the Spurs. In order to win the title, a team has to go through four rounds of very tough, physical, mental basketball to win a championship. A team will never have four rounds of easy play, and this is the biggest test now, so the Thunder has to lock in and be committed to stopping the Spurs.

- Brooks said that having a healthy Thabo Sefolosha in this series will be important because the Thunder needs a lot of perimeter defenders in this series. The Spurs average 24 assists per game in the Playoffs, and according to Coach Brooks they pass as well as the Dallas Mavericks passed last year. San Antonio has a great point guard that loves to attack and he won’t slow down unless you do a good job of containing him, according to Brooks. Harden said that Thabo is the team’s leading perimeter defender and he’ll be important because the Spurs play a lot of guards.

- According to Harden, the Spurs score on a lot of points in the paint (48.3 per game), so the Thunder has to do a great job of containing Tony Parker because he does a great job of creating. It’s going to be a tough task, Harden said, but the Thunder has learned a lot and how to play against different teams.

- Harden joked with reporters about making comparisons between himself and Manu Ginobili since they both are lefties that come off the bench and use the Euro-step move. Harden and Brooks also got a laugh out of a picture of a “Harden face-cake” that a local bakery crafted, which featured Harden’s beard and Mohawk.

- Nick Collison said the Thunder just has to be able to keep playing and mentally stay locked in for long stretches of time. Can’t have periods where you give in because you’re tired. Have to have multiple efforts, that’s what the series will be about, making the second and third efforts.

- Harden said that he thinks the Thunder did a pretty good job in the previous two series of sticking with it, being down late in the fourth quarters and not giving up, so the team is ready for this next series. Brooks echoed the sentiment by saying that the Thunder will just concentrate on itself and not pay attention to anything besides what it can control.