Thunder-Lakers: Avoiding early blitz
Saturday afternoon, a young team made its first NBA playoff appearance with the current core. And the Milwaukee Bucks were shell-shocked. They trailed Atlanta 34-17 before rallying to respectability, finally losing 102-92.
If the Bucks can melt down in the shadows of Atlanta, can the Thunder avoid such a cataclysmic start in the glare of the Lakers’ showtime?
“Hopefully,” said Thunder veteran Nick Collison, in the Staples Center locker room an hour before tipoff. “I’m not sure why that happens, but sometimes it does.
“Something we’ve been good about is not let the previous play affect us. If you stay in that mindset, you can avoid the snowball effect.”
The Lakers provide an stirring atmosphere, with the glitz and glamor. But the Staples Center crowd isn’t typically a nuthouse like in Portland or Salt Lake City. Collison said all crowds in the playoffs tend to draw closer together.
“The playoffs, it’s going to be like that everywhere you go,” he said. “It’s a good crowd (at the Staples Center). Big, huge arena. We’ll see how it goes. We’ve played pretty tough here.
“It’s hard to play here because you’re playing Kobe, Gasol, Bynum. The building or the atmosphere, once the game starts, is not that big a deal.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he wants his team to play all 48 minutes. “We can’t wait 6-7-8 minutes to wait and say, ‘Oh, we’re playing an NBA game.’ We can’t wait a quarter or a half to realize we’re playing in the playoffs.
“Hopefully, we’ll make some shots along the way. And we’ve got to defend with a purpose.”
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