Thunder Views Series Tied at 0-0 Heading into Game 3
DALLAS -- Home court advantage is a nice bonus to have in an NBA Playoff series, but one that is also taken with a grain of salt by the Thunder. Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club may lead its opening-round series against the Dallas Mavericks 2-0, but the Thunder will play Game 3 tonight in Dallas with the mindset that the series is tied, 0-0.
As guard Derek Fisher explained Monday night after Game 2, all the Thunder has done so far is hold serve at home. Now, as teammate Thabo Sefolosha described Thursday morning, is the time for the Thunder to try to take a game on the Mavericks’ home floor tonight.
“That’s the whole thing, taking it a game at a time and not looking back, not looking forward,” Sefolosha said. “We try to really take it day-by-day and worry about this game.”
While other teams might look ahead to future games or postseason series, the Thunder has been successful all season by controlling what it can on a daily, hourly basis. Whether it was a long road trip to the West Coast or two home stands of five consecutive games, the Thunder managed to settle down, analyze and strategize based on its specific opponent and nightly matchup. That attitude has not wavered since the Playoffs began last Saturday night and it will continue throughout the postseason.
“It’s always been our approach that every game is a new game and you don’t worry about the last game,” Brooks said. “You learn from it, but you move on quickly. We’ve had a couple good days of practice and preparation, but we expect the Mavericks to come out with a lot of force and I’m sure they expect us to come out the same way. Both teams play hard, both teams are really good basketball teams and it’s not going to change overnight. We both are going to keep fighting each other and keep pushing each other and play tough-minded basketball.”
That mental toughness has shone through on both sides so far in these playoffs, with Game 1 being decided 99-98 and the Thunder winning Game 2 by the score of 102-99. With two games that each featured 16 lead changes and nearly as many ties throughout the 48 minutes, the Thunder had a chance to close out games late and remain sharp heading to the road. Those nail-biters helped the Thunder stay focused on the aspects of the game it must hone in on to have better success moving forward.
“I would say that it actually helped us stay ready and stay working on what we have to work on,” Sefolosha said. “Those games could have gone either way, but we’re glad we won those games. As I say, there’s no looking back, saying we could have lost one of those games. We won and we’re looking forward to Game 3 and we know what we have to adjust.”
Having a full two days of practice and a shoot-around before the game has given both teams plenty of time to make those alterations to their strategies and points of emphasis. Whether it is how the team plans to guard Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry or how the Thunder aims to space the floor and get the offense into rhythm, the Thunder has come up with a plan of attack that it hopes to execute effectively tonight.
“I think just following the game plan. We’ve played against them a lot,” Sefolosha said. “We know what they like to do, what they want to do. So basically following the game plan and everybody being in tune (is key).”