It was a pretty clinical takedown of the Rockets in Game 1. The Thunder dominated the game defensively, holding Jeremy Lin and James Harden to a combined 24 points on 7-26 shooting.
The Rockets weren’t able to find anything in impactful in transition (20 points) and the 3-point line wasn’t there (just 8-36 from 3). The Thunder executed an excellent defensive gameplan that frustrated and stalled out Houston’s guards and creators.
“Make them be kind of selfish,” Serge Ibaka said of OKC’s defensive tactic. “When we switch against a team like them it makes them go one-on-one. That’s good for us. So for them they can take some tough shots, some contested shots. That’s what we want. That’s what we’re looking for.”
But Game 2 is about adjustments, and while the Thunder know the Rockets will have theirs, they’re keen on cleaning up a few things themselves.
“Just watch film,” Westbrook said of today’s practice focus. “Seeing our mistakes. Seeing where we can improve at, seeing where we were successful at. And just try and go from there.”
Kevin McHale, who is just fantastic at talking actual basketball, noted a few key areas the Rockets struggled offensively and made it seem clear that they intend to adjust on those. Most in the way they attack switching bigs, more focusing on quick drives and multiple passing combinations.
So knowing the Rockets intend to move a few things around and tinker, how that impact the Thunder’s preparations?
“That’s part of the game. You have to think ahead and what they do,” Scott Brooks said. “But most teams, you have a way that you play and you pretty much stay within those area but you make a tweak here and there. But we know they can play better.”
The Thunder have been through this before and while the dominance displayed over 48 minutes was impressive, you don’t get two wins for it. It only counts as one, and the good from Game 1 can be completely wiped clean with a poor showing in Game 2.
The message seems to be clear that the Thunder need to get better, or at least they think so. But is it hard to ask for more out of a team that just waxed its opponent by 29?
“You just have to ask in a different way. Just can’t be as direct,” Brooks said. “But you have to. You have to always push the group.
On how he played Game 1: “I thought it was alright. But this point of the year, I think that all that matters is if we win. If we win, I’m happy about whatever I’m doing and whatever our team is doing.”
On if someone gets in his way on a streak to the bucket: “Uhh, I’m pretty sure they’re not.”