Westbrook Warns Against Being "A Happy Team"
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Singer Bobby McFerrin made a bunch of money with a catchy tune telling people “Don’t Worry Be Happy.”
As far as Russell Westbrook is concerned that’s bad advice, especially when it comes to a basketball team coming off a big win.
"You can’t be a happy team man, a happy team always get beat,” he told a large group of reporters after the Thunder's Thursday practice.
Maybe that’s why Russ always looks so angry during games, you just don’t want to let anyone think you’re too happy and ready to settle.
“Gotta be focused,” he advised, “we didn’t do nothin’ but win a game and now we gotta get our minds and our bodies right for Game 3. They’re a great team, a team with many championships and they know how to respond after losses, so we gotta be ready to play.”
Kevin Durant isn’t exactly a happy camper either. Oh make no mistake he’s happy the Thunder got out of San Antonio with a win, but like Westbrook, he knows this is no time to rest on laurels.
“We gotta be better at controlling the ball,” he said when asked about Thunder shortcomings. “Those guys got to the pain a little too easy last game and then once guys drive we gotta step up and help and then we gotta help the helper. So we gotta be better at that.”
The Thunder could probably also stand to be better at controlling LaMarcus Aldridge but sometimes what it might take to bring his scoring down out of the stratosphere just might be a worse alternative than what’s happening now.
“There’s times because he is such a good passer you’ve gotta be careful when and where your help comes from,” cautioned head coach Billy Donovan.
“But I do think we have to double-team him in the right situations and try to maybe keep him off balance a little bit, but you’ve got Patty Mills out there, you have Kawhi Leonard out there, you’ve got Danny Green out there. You can start taking (Aldridge) away and all of a sudden it opens up threes, drives and a lot of other things. So you really have to make good decisions about where your help is coming from and when it’s coming.”
And, at least in this series, there have been a lot of times when the Thunder have forced Aldridge to do things he didn’t want to do, take shots with his off hand, move off his favorite spots, shoot over hands and the shots have still gone in.
Gone in at the incredible rate of 75 percent (33-for-44).
“He’s an All-Star player, one of the best players in the league,” Durant said of his fellow Texas Longhorn. “Sometimes you gotta just pat him on the ass and say ‘that’s a good shot, that’s a tough shot.’ But you gotta give our bigs credit for just staying with it and not getting discouraged when he hits those shots.”
Serge Ibaka contested 19 shots on Monday night and Steven Adams contested 16, many of those were against Aldridge and he hit the shot anyway.
So Durant is ready to just keep on keeping on.
“We’re just gonna stick to what we do and stick to how we play,” and he’ll be ready to accept whatever changes and tweaks Donovan and his coaches have in mind but there are no secrets between these two teams who know each other so very well.
“That team knows all our plays, we know all of theirs, this is a matter of you getting to your spots and making the right play.”
And not being real happy, even when you’re at home.
“It’s important to take one game at a time regardless of whether you’re playing at home or not,” Westbrook said. “Like I’ve said before I think we have the best fans in all sports and they’ll be prepared and we gotta make sure we’re prepared.”