Quick Turnaround For Thunder-Clips
By Randy Renner
The Thunder (and the Clippers for that matter) had just enough time to breathe collective sighs of relief for getting past the first round of the NBA Playoffs before quickly having to change gears to get ready for the second round.
"We had a tough series, just like they did and then a game right away so rest is important," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks told reporters Sunday at the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center.
Brooks did not put his team through a practice opting instead to "just go over the game plan and some of their personnel and some of the things we wanna get accomplished, but nothing on the court."
Kevin Durant, who is expected to be named the NBA's Most Valuable Player on Monday or Tuesday said he and his teammates can't afford to let the joy of getting past the Grizzlies distract them from the task of taking on the Clippers.
"We just need to try not to be a happy team," was how Durant put it. "Yeah, we won our first series which was the toughest series we've ever been through, but we have to just focus on being prepared for a great Clippers team."
OKC and LAC split their four game regular season series, each winning a game at home and a game on the road. The overall margin was razor thin. The Thunder scoring 432 total points and the Clippers 428.
"We know each other, we know their tendencies and their personnel very well," Brooks said. "It's going to be a very competitive game tomorrow."
It will be especially competitive at the point guard spot where Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul have had some great battles over the years but it's also where Paul has been at a disadvantage trying to stay with Westbrook on defense.
Durant thinks Westbrook got a pretty decent refresher course in what handling CP3 is like by going up against Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley.
"I think (Conley) is similar to Chris Paul because they're small crafty guards who can really move and they use a lot of pick and rolls and can finish really well. (Russ) just needs to be himself, relax and just play his game."
"It's gonna be a great matchup (between Westbrook and Paul)," Brooks acknowledged. "They're both very competitive, they both have just an incredible desire to win the game."
But it won't be just Westbrook's chore to slow down CP3.
"We have opportunities to throw multiple players on Chris, it's not about that matchup, it's about us playing them and that's what we've always done but they are two great players who are gonna compete for their teams."
Game 1 is set for late Monday night, the tipoff coming at around 8:45 and Game 2 will have that same late start.
Should be fun.