Driving up to the AT&T Center tonight, I noticed the media parking lot was almost at capacity. I walked into the media room and there were tons of media seating areas in our writing room. For two small market franchises who are not known for a lot of publicity, the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder will be getting a lot of attention as their Western Conference Finals matchup kicks off at 7:30 PM CST.
For Thunder head coach Scott Brooks, he’s proud of the hard work his All-NBA 2nd team point guard Russell Westbrook brings to the floor everyday, and he says Westbrook is still competing despite his critics.
"He puts the work in everyday,” said Coach Brooks, “he doesn't get frustrated by every remark that's said about him."
On the team he’ll face, coach Brooks said the Spurs were tough this season, and they’ll be even tougher with the addition of Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw.
"They play well together,” said coach Brooks of the Spurs, “they have a high I.Q. as a team. Jackson and Boris know how to play."
For Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, he has so many weapons to use on his bench that he doesn’t have enough minutes to use them all. When asked if he’ll play DeJuan Blair, who scored 22-points and grabbed 11-rebounds against the Thunder earlier this season, coach Popovich said the game would dictate that decision.
“The game will tell us what’s appropriate and what’s not,” said Coach Popovich of the chances of Blair playing. He said the team would continue with the same lineups that have gotten them through the first two rounds of the playoffs.
As for his rookie’s assignment of defending the NBA’s regular season leading scorer Kevin Durant, coach Popovich relates Kawhi Leonard’s growth as a quarter-by-quarter process.
“It’s an education for him,” said coach Popovich of Leonard, “he’s not Bruce Bowen.”
- In pregame shootaround, Westbrook was out on the floor working on his 19-foot jumper. He kept making the shots at a consistent rate.
- On the Spurs’ side of the floor, Tim Duncan was out working on his patented 17-foot elbow jumper, where he should get some open looks from in the series. Meanwhile Danny Green was working on his jump shooting game as well.
- Ernie Johnson from TNT was out on the court and I even saw Shaquille O’Neal down in the tunnels of the AT&T Center. That means one thing, Charles Barkley will be in the building tonight.
Follow me on twitter (@24writer) for in-game commentary and post game reaction from the locker room.