The Oklahoma City Thunder are flying to San Antonio this afternoon after a brief practice this morning at the INTEGRIS Thunder Development Center.
Thunder forward Serge Ibaka missed yesterday’s workout with flu-like symptoms but he was good to go today and Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said everyone else is feeling fine too and more than ready to get this showdown series started.
“We had a great week of practice,” Brooks told a handful of local reporters before heading to the airport, “good film sessions, good shooting sessions but yeah we’re ready to play. It’s like it was with the first series and the second series you get tired of one another, it gets physical, it gets chippy so now it’s time to play against another team.”
The team they’re playing is the team the Thunder is modeled after. Many of the key members of the Thunder organization, including general manager Sam Presti, spent time working for the Spurs. Even the two teams superstars, Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan are similar team-first, high character guys.
“I don’t know Duncan personally,” admitted Brooks, “but from what I hear and read he’s an amazing guy off the court and Kevin is like that. He’s just a terrific young man in that he believes in team, he believes in community and he’s always about the team. And I’m assuming Duncan’s the same way.”
There are other similarities too, especially when it comes to the teams’ sixth men, James Harden for the Thunder and Manu Ginobili for the Spurs. Both players can take over games at times, both players are left handed and both will play critical roles in the series.
“Definitely a lot of similarities,” Brooks agreed. “They both are incredible play-makers, they both are incredible scorers, they both are incredible competitors. I think that’s what really sets them apart, their competitiveness.”
Sets them apart from certain others maybe but also adds to the linkage between them. As to them both being left-handed John Rohde of The Oklahoman asked the head coach if it might be easier for one left-handed player to guard another?
“I’m not sure about that,” Brooks answered, “they’re just so much alike. They both love going left but they’re really good at taking you one or two dribbles right and then crossing you back over to your strong hand and they really come with a lot of force.”
Thunder forward Kevin Durant is just ready to get on the plane and get to San Antonio to start this next chapter of Thunder basketball, “Yeah, it’s a great opportunity for us. We’re in the same spot we were last year but we’re more experienced and it’s a different team so we just gotta take advantage of this opportunity, man and it’s gonna be fun. San Antonio’s an unbelievable team. We really respect them but we’re ready to go down there and compete.”