Playing nine games in 15 days — seven on the road — presented challenges beyond staying mentally focused. One benefit to the Thunder opening a five-game, two-week-long homestand Friday night is coach Scott Brooks can finally schedule some practices.
"This gives us a chance to go back to the drawing board,” said Thunder standout Jeff Green. "We can fix some things we haven’t had a chance to work on because we’ve had so many games.” Over the past two weeks, the Thunder has made two trips to Los Angeles, played a Florida doubleheader (Miami and Orlando) and took trips to Sacramento, San Antonio and Salt Lake City. They played games in all four time zones. They played three back-to-backs. They spent countless hours in hotels and airports. Former Oklahoma basketball coach Kelvin Sampson, an assistant with Milwaukee, the next opponent, said one of his biggest adjustments to coaching in the NBA was dealing with portions of an 82-game season that sometimes feature four games a week. "In college, if you had a bad game you had a chance to correct mistakes before the next game,” Sampson said. "In the NBA, sometimes you don’t have time to practice. You have to spend time one-on-one with guys watching film in hotel rooms or correct things on the fly at shootarounds.” Trying to keep players fresh in the midst of a grueling stretch, Brooks scheduled only one practice each of the last two weeks. Now his staff can review month-long training camp principles and add some new wrinkles. "This is an important time for us,” Brooks said. "We’ve been steady with our message.