By Randy Renner
With what most are calling the biggest game of the year right in front of them the Oklahoma City Thunder appeared ready to embrace the challenge posed by LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"They've got a really good team, it's not just those three guys," Thunder coach Scott Brooks pointed out, "and we know Cleveland's play great basketball but our group's gonna be competitive, we've shown that over the years and tomorrow night we'll have to continue to do that."
"We're looking forward to the challenge," said Thunder superstar Kevin Durant. "We're getting better, we're competing and we gotta keep it up."
Tuesday night's win over Milwaukee, coupled with Phoenix losing to Miami, puts the Thunder just three games behind the Suns for eighth place in the Western Conference, playoff territory.
Now that the Thunder are getting closer to the rest of The West and the national TV spotlight is shining on Thursday's matchup with LeBron and the Cavs point guard Russell Westbrook was asked if the Thunder's typical 'one game at a time, every game means the same' attitude would change.
"No," was his simple answer.
When asked more specifically about his likely matchup with Cavs All-Star Kyrie Irving, Westbrook was a bit more talkative about what he and his teammates need to do.
"Defend. We just gotta go and play our game. We don't worry about matchups and who's coming in and who's doing what and how they doing we just need to defend like we're supposed to and take care of business."
Durant and Westbrook may take all of this spotlight stuff in stride but shooting guard Anthony Morrow isn't used to the kind of hype KD-LeBron, Thunder-Cavs can generate and he's ready to soak it all in.
"I can't wait man," Morrow said with a big grin, "it's my first time being on a team like this with this type of magnitude of a game in terms of everything around it, so I'm excited...it's a big game."
You can maybe forgive A-Mo for being as fired up as he is about the buildup but Durant, who's played in more big time games than most his age, had a firm response when told what his new teammate had to say.
"I'm gonna tell him to calm his ass down, it's a regular game," Durant said, sounding as if he absolutely believed that even down to how he expects the crowd to react.
"A regular Thunder game man. Ya'll guys do a great job of hyping everything up. We got a good team coming in here, just like last night, it was electric in there. So it's gonna be a regular Thunder game and we know how that goes."
Yes we do. Which is a good reminder for me to be sure to bring my earplugs.