The first full practice in a couple of days for the Oklahoma City Thunder went off without a hitch today, even though OKC doesn’t have an opponent yet for The Finals, head coach Scott Brooks figures they have plenty to work on anyway.
“We wanted to have an intense practice and we did,” Brooks said, “having a couple of days off was important for the guys and today I wanted to get together and go over some of the things that we’ve done and the things we have to continue to do no matter who we play.”
That mystery will clear up tonight when Boston and Miami play Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but as for today’s practice session Brooks was pleased.
“I thought they did a good job of competing and playing defense and passing the basketball so it was a good day today.”
How can it not be a good day when you’re guys are one of just three teams that still even need to practice, tomorrow that number is reduced by a third.
Today, just like from the beginning of the season, practice was only about the Thunder, not who they will play, but more about how they will play no matter who the opponent turns out to be.
“That’s what we do, that’s what we’ve done all year long and we’re gonna continue to do that even when we know who we’re gonna play we still have to work on what we do and try to get that better, so today was all about us.”
Even though the Celtic and the Heat appear to be vastly different Brooks and his coaches have noticed a few things that are characteristics of each.
“There’s some similarities there in how they play and how they guard. Miami has some of the more talented players at some positions but Boston has veteran players who are smart and tough at their positions and (Rajon) Rondo is obviously one of the premier point guards so both teams are good and we just have to do what we do today and tomorrow we’ll focus on whoever we play.”
Focusing might prove to be difficult, especially for a young team like the Thunder who, as a group, have never played in The Finals. They can draw on the experience of Derek Fisher with his five championship rings and Kendrick Perkins and Nazy Mohammed who each have one. Even coach Brooks has one from his playing days with the Rockets and general manager Sam Presti picked up three from his days with the Spurs, but it’s nothing like going through it yourself.
Still Brooks doesn’t think the outside distractions that could pull his players thoughts away from just playing the games one at a time will be an issue, “no I don’t think so, I think our guys are pretty focused. If you let it get to you and you let it take your whole day it will. There’s a lot of excitement and there should be but we still have four more games to win and that’s what we’re focusing on.”
And they’re focusing on those four games just one at a time.