Thunder-Blazers Pre-game Notes
The comparisons between the Thunder and the Blazers are never-ending. In today’s editions of The Oklahoman, Mike Baldwin, quoting ESPN’s Ric Bucher, became the latest to dissect the similarities between the two. It’s a natural link considering the young talent both teams possess.
But Jeff Green stopped short of saying the Thunder aspires to be the Blazers, who enter tonight’s game at the Ford Center sixth in the Western Conference standings at 47-27.
“We’re trying to be better than that,” Green said. ”People compare us because we’re young. That’s it. That’s the bottom line. We have a totally different group of guys. We’re just trying to be the best we can be. Obviously we want to be better than every team in the league but it’s going to take some time. But the more and more we work at it I think the better and better we’re getting.”
The Thunder hasn’t copied the Blazers’ blueprint, but Oklahoma City has built a promising future similar to the way Portland has constructed its revival and now sits on the cusp of the postseason for the first time since 2003.
“I think if you talk to both GMs, they probably have the same plan to build through the draft,” said Nick Collison. “We’re off to a good start. But the next step isn’t just going to happen. We have to be able to do it. We have to be able to make that step as a team.”
LIVINGSTON WILL BE ACTIVE TONIGHT
Shaun Livingston will join the 12-man active roster tonight and be in uniform but isn’t likely to see any court time.
“I can’t predict if he’s going to play or not,” said coach Scott Brooks. “I hope that we’re going to get him some minutes (at some point). We’ll see…I can see him playing, but I just want him to be comfortable with us and us to be comfortable with him.”
After signing with the team Tuesday, Livingston went through individual workouts Wednesday, participated in his first full practice Thursday and a shoot-around session Friday morning. The early impressions from his new teammates was that he’s still got a lot of talent.
“I think he’s slowly getting it back,” Green said. “The injury that occurred with him, it’s tough to come back right away and be in a good rhythm right out of the gate. I know it’s going to take a couple of years for him to fully get to where he left off when he was with the Clippers before the injury happened…But we’re a patient group of guys, and we know with his work ethic he’ll be back to normal soon.”
Said Collison: “He can play. The injuries he went through are pretty unbelievable, almost unprecedented I think. To see him back where he is, he’s doing really well. It’s going to probably take him some time…But it’s an opportunity. He’s a guy that everyone knew could play. But we’re making an investment in him and hoping that he can get back to where he was. And if he does it’ll be a great pickup for us. Time will tell. It’ll be a tough injury to come back from but it seems like he’s doing great.”
WHY WEAVER GOT SENT DOWN
Brooks explained Weaver’s assignment to the Tulsa 66ers Friday by saying it’s simply an opportunity for the rookie guard to get more playing time. Weaver was averaging 19.6 minutes over his past five games with the Thunder. He figures to be getting twice that in Tulsa while also having an opportunity to have the ball in his hands more, play some minutes at point guard and have more freedom to develop his game.
“He’s going to be able to play there two games and only miss one game here,” said Brooks, indicating Weaver is likely to be recalled prior to Sunday’s game against Indiana. ”I like what he has done for us, and he will continue to improve because he is a great worker. But he’s getting minutes down there and it helps when you get minutes. I know he was getting 16, 17 minutes up here, but he’s getting 40 minutes down there. I thought he did a good job. He was filling up the stat sheet. They didn’t win the game, but I thought his numbers and his play was pretty good. So he’s just getting an opportunity to play extra minutes.”
SO WHO GETS WEAVER’S MINUTES TONIGHT?
Brooks was non-committal when asked Friday who would slide in at the shooting guard position tonight for the 16-20 minutes Weaver normally receives. Brooks said he could play Kevin Durant extra minutes at shooting guard, give Jeff Green more minutes or go big or small.
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