The Oklahoma City Thunder looked dead to rights after the first two games of the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. It all changed in Game 3 when the Thunder routed the Spurs. Since then, Oklahoma City knotted the series at home and drastically changed the complexion of the playoffs by winning Game 5 on the road.
The Thunder can advance to the Finals tonight if they can win a fourth straight and they get to do it in front of a home crowd. Credit Scott Brooks and a young team that has bought into the fact that they were never going to use their youth as an excuse.
Scott Brooks joined KTCK in Sacramento with The Grant Napear Show to discuss what winning Game 5 meant for the franchise, not using youth as an excuse, the message going into Game 6, Kevin Durant’s maturity, the Eastern Conference Finals and the fans in Oklahoma City.
What did beating San Antonio on the road in Game 5 mean for the franchise?:
“We knew going into this series if we wanted to get to where we wanted to get to as a team, the NBA champion, you have to win on the road. They had the better record than us, so it was the first team to four, but we had to win one game on the road to get that opportunity and we did that. … It puts us in the position that we have a chance to win that game and I thought it was big for our franchise. It’s something that we work on every day and talk about doing the little things.”
You rarely talk about the youth of your team. Why is that?:
“I had an opportunity to take this team over four years ago and we were young. Like I told the guys in our first meeting, ‘You’re young. Five years from now, Kevin you’re going to be young. So we’re not going to use that as an excuse. Our job is to be a professional every day and you have to do it every day.’ … Sometimes you’re going to take a step backwards, but if you work hard every day, you’re going to see results. Give our guys a lot of credit. They’e done it, they believe in it and they continue to do it.”
What will your message be to the team entering Game 6?:
“Everybody in our locker room understands that that team, San Antonio, they have big-time championship DNA written all over them. They have the history of winning multiple championships and Pop has the same thing. They have the pedigree to show you and the experiences they can rely on. Our job is to win one game. We’ve always had the same approach. Even when we were down 0-2, we weren’t thinking about, ‘We have to win these two home games.’ … You have a job to do and that’s to play as hard as you can tonight. You can’t worry about yesterday and can’t worry about what you’re going to do tomorrow.”
Is it safe to say that Kevin Durant is mature beyond his years?:
“If I had to talk about Kevin and you gave me 10 minutes, I would talk about nine minutes as a person. He’s just a humble young man. He believes in all the right things. He was raised with great values and lives it every day. It’s not a public thing that he wants everybody to think that’s who he is. That’s who he is. He’s a great teammate, a worker, he plays hard, does things the right way, is talented — there’s no question about that. He has freakish athletic ability, has a great body, is 6-foot-10, long arms, can handle the ball like most guards. … It’s just amazing to be around him. Sometimes I wonder if he realizes how good he is.”
Have you been watching the games in the East on your off nights?:
“Yeah, oh yeah. I love the game. I love watching our game over after the game and the next morning. This is what I do; this is what I love. And I can learn. I can keep getting better from watching ourselves and also learn from watching others.”
What is the city of Oklahoma City like right now?:
“It’s a great environment. Banners, car flags, T-shirts, hats, signs everywhere. It’s fun to be around right now. Our guys are great. They appreciate it. I’m very fortunate. I’m not going to say I deserve all this, but I’m thankful I’m in this position. I get to do what I love. There are only 30 NBA head jobs and I have one of them. I have a team that wants to be coached, that I can demand things out of them and they appreciate me pushing them. I have a great opportunity to take it to another level.”
Listen to Scott Brooks on 1140 The Fan in Sacramento here (Interview begins at 54:30)