SAN ANTONIO –This time last year, the Thunder were about to journey into the unknown. A Western Conference Finals trip against a proven winner, on the road.
Same story this time around.
But the Thunder are said to have grown. They’re supposed to be different. More mature, experienced. Question is, will it matter against the mighty Spurs?
“We’ve been through it. we know what it takes,” said Kevin Durant at shootaround this morning. “We’ve been on the other side of it last year, losing. Hopefully we’ve learned from that experience and we’ve gotten better. We’ve grown since that loss last year against Dallas. We’ve seen it a little bit in those first two series.”
Still, it’s a massive Game 1 and there’s a whole lot on the line. All I have to do is sit in a chair tonight and I feel like I need to strap a barf bag to my head. The Thunder played it cool at shootaround doing their normal routine. But Scott Brooks wasn’t going to lie. He’s feeling some nerves.
“Nervous is good,” he said. “If you’re not nervous, you don’t care what you do. And we care about what we do. We care about the outcome.”
A few notes:
- The Spurs’ arena has a very strange feel to it. It almost feels like a giant theater. It’s a rectangular building and the upper deck seems super high up. Seems like it would be a tough building to get used to.
- KD was wearing a Redskins hat as he talked with reporters and one asked him if he became a fan because of Robert Griffin III. Come on now. KD’s been wearing that hat for four years now and is from the area for crying out loud.
- One reporter asked Kendrick Perkins if he thought his minutes would get cut because of the matchups. Perk looked at him and said, “Why you say that?” The reporter just said, “I don’t know.” Kind of a funny exchange.
- Perk was asked what the difference is between defending Tim Duncan and Andrew Bynum. “Well, Duncan is smart,” he said.
- KD was asked if it’s been tough not to be a little in “awe” of the Spurs: “We’re all competitive guys and respect what they have done. But that was in the past,” he said. “They’ve been playing as of late. We’re 8-1 in the playoffs as well. But we can’t worry about what they’ve done against other teams. We just have to come out and compete against them. None of the guys will be in awe. We respect what they’ve done. They’ve built a dynasty here. We’ve just got to come out and be us, and we’ll be fine.”
- Brooks was asked the same thing: “We’re not coming into the game in awe. We’re going to have respect for them. We know we can beat them if we do a lot of good things. And we also know they can beat us if we don’t.”
- That KD quote above about OKC looking up to the Spurs doesn’t really show how Durant seemed to take that question. I think he’s feeling a tad disrespected by all this talk about the Spurs. He doesn’t like the fact people are thinking the Thunder are some underdog in the series. And for good reason. Yeah they Spurs are impressive, but this isn’t some overmatched Thunder team.
- After Brooks finished speaking with the media, we talked for a good little while and if he’s nervous, he’s not really showing it. Brooks does an excellent job of setting a comfortable tone with his team and he’s going to have them in a great mental state at tipoff.
- The Spurs had what appear to be little fold up fan noise maker things on the seats. Come on Spurs, act like you’ve been here before.
- Brooks wisely pointed out how the Spurs defend well without fouling. And with the Thunder being a team that likes to attack and get to the line, that could be an important aspect to the series.