Thunder Focused On Themselves This Week, Then Spurs
By Randy Renner
The Thunder caught a nice break with the way the preseason schedule of games concluded a full week before the San Antonio Spurs come in to give Billy Donovan and his new system the ultimate test.
Donovan plans to take advantage of the extra time by focusing first on his team.
"This back half of the week is really gonna be more geared towards us," he told reporters. "I think we can work on different situational things in practice, different lineups, moving guys to different spots and add more things in offensively and now that we have our base defense in we can now work on some different coverages."
Donovan wants to see his players be able to get better and more comfortable with what they've already learned and then start jumping into more exotic sets and schemes.
"Obviously the preparation is a lot more challenging once the year starts because the games come so quickly but by Sunday, Monday somewhere we'll start discussing the preparation for the Spurs."
Veteran forward Nick Collison has been around long enough to have seen regular season games begin much quicker after the end of the preseason schedule. As recently as a couple years ago many teams played eight exhibition games, now the NBA limits it to six in most circumstances. Collison thinks even that probably too many.
"I think you could probably play four and get what you need out of it and then have more days throughout the season to not have as many back-to-backs. If I was president of the world that's what I would do."
Until then though he's happy enough just with how the schedule broke.
"I think it's great to get a real solid week in. We have a little sample of what we are as a team with these preseason games and now we have a good week to work on some things and tighten them up."
A couple of things that still need some work are cutting down on turnovers and fouls. An excess of both has continued to be a problem.
"I think on the offensive end we have to work to be in the right places and not try to make too difficult a play." Collison said pointing out some ill-advised passes into double teams or just heavy traffic that became turnovers.
"And with fouling I think it's again just being in the right position," Collison said. "You usually foul because you're out of position and you're playing from behind and you're lunging at a guy because you're late."
How concerned is the head coach about too many fouls and too many turnovers in the preseason?
"They're gonna work on it and I anticipate that we'll get better," Donovan said. "The on thing I'll say about these guys is the things that have been in their control and things that they can have an impact on, they've been really, really good about trying to focus on those things."
Those will both be areas Donovan plans to focus parts of practice sessions on the rest of this week.
McGary Still Out With Concussion
Forward Mitch McGary missed another day of practice as he continues to recover from the concussion he suffered when he collided with Matt Barnes in Memphis on Friday night.
"Everyday I think he's getting better, I think he's improving," Donovan said. "I think Mitch feels good and I think he's moving in the right direction but right now there's no rush to push him back."
The Thunder have long been aware of the dangers of concussions, even before more attention became focused on them because of problems in the NFL.
"It's a scary thing," Collison said as he remembered the two concussions he's had in his NBA career. The worst was a few years ago in Toronto.
"I couldn't answer very simple questions like where did we play last night, where are you? I remember them asking me and not being able to recall but knowing I should be able to recall this," Collison said.
He remembered having a headache for a couple days then rapidly improving but Thunder trainer Joe Sharpe kept him out of practice and games.
"Joe's one of the best," Collison said. "He's one of the guys who'd done a lot of research on it even before the recent push for it. So they're really good here."