Durant: "We Have To Impose Our Will"
By Randy Renner
Thunder superstar Kevin Durant doesn't want to take anything for granted as he and his teammates make final preparations for tonight's Game 5 of their playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies.
"We're not expecting to come out here and win just because we're at home, we have to impose our will, we have to hit these guys first," Durant said. "Just because we're at home we can't relax and let the game come to us, we have to go take it."
Durant emphasized that today and his head coach did the same thing when he spoke with reporters yesterday.
"We wanna attack and find good shots early in the shot clock," Scott Brooks said, "we wanna attack the paint with our guards. That gives them the opportunity to get into the teeth of the (Memphis) defense and look for the open shot."
Sometimes though even finding the open shot hasn't worked real well for the Thunder in this series. OKC is shooting just 39.9 percent overall for the entire series. Durant (39.6 percent) and Russell Westbrook (35.1 percent) are even worse. Both players shot under 30 percent in Saturday's Game 4 for the first time ever in a playoff game.
Brooks said for the most part the shots they and missed were good ones.
"If they're good shots they're gonna make half of 'em. Kevin has been a 50 percent shooter for the last three years now so that's not gonna just go away. One thing I don't have to worry about is Kevin losing his confidence."
Durant hasn't and won't but he has changed one small thing about his routine during this shooting slump he's in.
"I have to not read the media stories and not look at Twitter and Instagram," he said, other than that everything stays the same, shots falling or shots not.
"Just put in the work, same stuff over and over again. Keep workin' it and keep my mind right and if I have another bad shooting night just stay positive and try to find my way out of it."
Meanwhile both Durant and Westbrook have found other ways to impact games, especially Saturday night when they both grabbed double digit rebounds, blocked shots, had steals and also dished assists.
"We struggled on offense but we didn't let it get to our defense," Durant said. "We know there's gonna be some stretches where we're gonna miss some shots but our defense has to be on point and consistent every time down the court."
Brooks switched up some things on defense in Game 4 that will probably continue in Game 5.
"We put Thabo (Sefolosha) on (Mike) Conley at the start of the game just to give him a different look before we went back to Russell and then our other guards," Brooks explained. "Thabo's length can be a problem (for Conley). We want Thabo to harass him a little in the back court. I think (Thabo) has done a good job of using his defensive toughness to impact the series."
The other tactic Brooks used in Game 4 was putting both Westbrook and Reggie Jackson on the floor at the same time. With the Grizzlies defense swarming to Durant and Westbrook it left Jackson with more room to operate and he took full advantage.
"Reggie did a great job of getting to the basket and attacking," Brooks noted, "and he has to come back (tonight) and play with that same aggressive style and I anticipate that he will."
Durant, Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder recognized Jackson had the hot hand and rode him till the end. KD said he's perfectly happy to do that again if the Thunder's sixth man gets hot.
"When I have it going they wanna give me the ball, when Russ has it going we give him the ball so when Reggie has it going we gotta do the same thing," Durant said. "I feel confident in any role, all I wanna do is win not matter how bad I shoot, how many turnovers I have, who scores the points, I just wanna win. If we win that way Im fine with it."