By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
So what do you do when you’re the Thunder and you’re coming off the biggest blowout win in your playoff history?
Well for the most part you try to forget about the scoreboard part of it.
“Outside of using the game to extract some information that can help us, the final score, to me, has no bearing on anything going forward,” head coach Billy Donovan told reporters after a short Sunday practice.
Backup center Enes Kanter, who had 16 points and 13 rebounds, echoed his coach about n ot paying much attention to Saturday’s margin of victory.
“Definitely, we talked about it just now in the meeting room and (coaches) said we just need to forget about the score and just keep playing the way we played.”
OKC’s dominating 108-70 win over the Mavericks Saturday night was accomplished mostly through the combination of stingy defense and some Mavs bad luck. It seemed like every time they managed to get someone open that someone missed the shot.
The Mavericks hit just 29 percent of their attempts.
“We anticipate they’re gonna shoot the ball a lot better (Monday night) then they did (Saturday night),” Donovan said, “But I’m not taking anything away from our guys defensively I thought our energy and our intensity was very, very good.”
And no one was better with that than Serge Ibaka. He scored 17 points on a very efficient shooting night (3-for-3 on threes) but more importantly he was as dominant in his role as a premier defender as we’ve seen all season.
“And when he has his fingerprints on an entire game like that defensively it just makes us an incredible team,” Donovan said.
And it wasn’t easy because Ibaka’s primary assignment Saturday night, just like it will be all series, is Dirk Nowitzki. Ibaka had to chase him around all over the floor, making sure he was covered, or at least bothered, out on the perimeter and make sure he didn’t get loose down low in the paint.
Kevin Durant, who knows what kind of player Ibaka can be, was impressed but also figures the big guy can do even more.
“He was helping off (on defense), protecting the rim, spreading the floor. He was good, but we need him top be better next game.”
Veteran Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is sure to have something up his sleeve for tonight’s game but he’ll have fewer cards to play tonight than he did Saturday.
Spark plug point guard J.J. Barea, who has been bothered by a tender groin muscle late in the season, had to leave Saturday’s game when he aggravated the injury. Carlisle told reporters yesterday that Barea will not be able to play tonight.
The Mavericks will again be without forward David Lee with a foot injury. Carlisle had hoped Lee might be ready tonight after missing Saturday’s game but that will not be the case.
The news is far better for the Thunder. Backup point guard Cameron Payne, who was held out of Saturday’s game with a sore hip, was seen being very active toward the end of OKC’s practice session and could be ready to go tonight.
Nick Collison and Nazy Mohammed left Saturday’s game with minor injuries but Donovan also thinks those guys could be ready to play tonight too.
“We’ll know more at shootaround, see how they’ve responded.”
Tipoff for tonight’s game is set for 7:10 inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. You can see the game either on Fox Sports Oklahoma or TNT and you can follow me on Twitter @RandyRenner for updates today from shootaround and then from the arena beginning at about 4 o’clock. We’ll also have a full postgame wrapup, including blogs and video from the lockerroom.