Practice Report: The Preseason is Upon us
Nuggets from my notebook from day seven of training camp.
- Thunder coach Scott Brooks announced today that Cole Aldrich will replace the recovering Kendrick Perkins (wrist) in the starting lineup. No surprise there. Aldrich is firmly entrenched as the backup center this season.
- Brooks said he has yet to determine who will replace injured guard Thabo Sefolosha as the starter at the 2 spot. I’d be pretty shocked if it’s not Daequan Cook. “It’s between a couple of guys,” Brooks said. “I haven’t decided yet.”
- Bummer alert. After saying the other day that he doesn’t plan on playing any of his main guys more than 20 minutes, Brooks today lowered that number even more. He said his core guys probably will play between 16 and 18 minutes. “Our starters are not going to play heavy minutes,” Brooks said. “I can’t imagine those guys playing over 16 to 18 minutes.”
- Brooks said he “can see Serge (Ibaka) getting into the 18 (minute) range the first game.”
- From what I could gather today, it sounds like Brooks is leaning heavily toward playing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in only the first half. It also sounds like just about everybody else will get some playing time. “Guys are going to get lots of opportunities,” Brooks said. “It’s a great time for them to get out there and show what they can do and how they do it within team concepts.”
- It’ll be a real good test for the backups, because Houston coach Kevin McHale will play his main guys more than normal.
- You probably know by now, but this game isn’t being televised locally. The only one that will be carried on Fox Sports Oklahoma is the finale against Dallas. You can catch the call on the radio at WWLS 98.1-FM. But the Rockets are broadcasting the game on Comcast SportsNet Houston, so if you search in the right places I’m sure you can find a stream.
- Brooks on how important it is to win in the preseason: “I think winning is always important. No matter who’s on the floor, the object is to win the game and play well as a group. I think it does a little bit of a disservice if guys that normally don’t play at the end of the game are playing and not trying to win. That’s not what we’re about. We’re still going to go hard and try to win the game. We have NBA players that are competitive. We have good enough guys to win the game at the end of the game if that’s what it comes down to. But I don’t plan on putting Kevin back into the game just to give us a better chance to win the game.”
- Eric Maynor and Reggie Jackson will split the minutes at the backup point guard spot tomorrow. “Reggie and Eric will definitely split those backup minutes,” Brooks said. “Depending on the game and how things are going, I don’t know exactly how many minutes each guy will play. But they both will get a good look tomorrow.”
- As for today’s practice. “It was high quality,” Brooks said. “It wasn’t long. We weren’t looking for a long practice. We just wanted some good energy and great execution. The guys gave us that for 60 minutes and I was very pleased.”
- Brooks and Durant responded to Magic Johnson’s prediction.
- You probably know Nick Collison wants to be more aggressive looking for his shot this season. What you probably don’t know is Collison has been practicing corner 3s and isn’t opposed to jacking up some this year. “We’ll see,” Collison said. “It’s something I’ve been working on, the corner 3 particularly is only a step or two back and it gives us better spacing. It’s something I’ve been working on. I don’t want to promise I’m going to take it much because I don’t really know.”
- Old friend Mike Wilks was a guest at practice today. One of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
- I asked Brooks what he’s looking for out of mix and match lineups and he said several things. Among them are the individual play, how the guy is playing, the individual matchups, how a player is defending, how he is executing on offense and how a unit performs together.
- I also asked Durant who he is eager to see tomorrow night. “I’m just looking forward to seeing Eric back on the floor and being the guy he is,” Durant said. “Because having an ACL tear and being out from something you love for almost a whole year that’s tough. And for him to come back so quickly and to be 100 percent, he worked his tail off this summer to get back. I’m excited for him.”
- KD on how his game changes when he slides to the 4: “I just feel like I have a different mismatch problem and I make other teams adjust because usually when we go small the other team goes small to match up with James, Russell, myself, Serge. Just causing mistmatch problems and spacing the floor to (allow) guys to operate. If I get the ball in a wide open position I’ve got to shoot, and if I get the ball in an iso situation I got to go to work. I’m just spacing the floor out and playing off my teammates.”
- Collison on what will make the preseason opener a success: “I think if we can communicate, if we can execute some things offensively and defensively is big. Try to defend their sets. And communication is big, talking more and moving as a unit. That would be a good start.”
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