Oklahoma City Thunder: Practice time would do the Thunder some good

Extra time in the practice gym would help OKC adjust to life without Russell Westbrook.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: April 28, 2013

HOUSTON — Allen Iverson might disagree, but what the Thunder really needs right now is practice.

Yeah, we're talkin' about practice.

In its five-year existence, the OKC franchise has now played exactly one game without All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook.

On Saturday, Westbrook had season-ending knee surgery in Vail, Colo., which ended his NBA streak of 439 consecutive regular-season and post-season games.

Later that same day, Westbrook's teammates survived with a 104-101 victory on the road to take a 3-0 playoff series lead against the Houston Rockets.

The Thunder can advance to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs with a Game 4 victory at 8:30 p.m. on Monday at Toyota Center.

Completing the sweep would give OKC some much-needed practice time to figure out how life is supposed to operate without Westbrook.

The Thunder would play the winner of a Los Angeles Clippers-Memphis Grizzlies series, which could go the full seven games. If such a scenario were to happen, OKC would have eight days to practice before its next game.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks stressed his team was only thinking about its next game and not about completing a sweep — which in this instance is the exact same thing.

Brooks was asked which was more important for his team right now, practice time or playing time?

“The combination is pretty important, but if I had to pick one or the other, practice time is always important when you have to make adjustments on the fly,” Brooks said. “But it's not an excuse. We have players that can make adjustments on the fly. We do it all the time in a game. We make adjustments, but practice time is always good for our team.”

Thunder veteran reserve guard Derek Fisher said a sweep would be beneficial even if Westbrook were healthy and still available.

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