John Rohde: Half-a-hundred at stake tonight for Thunder

By John Rohde Modified: April 14, 2010 at 8:01 am •  Published: April 14, 2010

Thunder coach Scott Brooks doesn’t plan to rest any of his players for tonight’s regular-season finale against Memphis inside the Ford Center, although he’ll ask for volunteers.

Don’t expect anyone to raise his hand. However, it would be perfectly understandable if center Nenad Krstic opted for one last chance to rest his bruised right knee.

Krstic is the only Thunder starter to miss any games this season (five so far). Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green and Thabo Sefolosha are 81-for-81 in starts this season. Four starters batting 1.000 is rarified air in the NBA, which is why it’s a good bet no one in this foursome will show up wearing street clothes tonight.

Doesn’t matter if they’re playing 5-on-5 or H-O-R-S-E, these Thunder players are a competitive bunch. No one is about to sit down when it’s time to stand up and be counted.

No matter what the outcome tonight, the Thunder will play the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, but beating Memphis definitely matters. Tonight’s game is not meaningless.

Lose tonight and the Thunder will have lost three straight and five of its last six. What a buzz-kill. That’s no way to build momentum into the postseason considering all the hard work to get to this point.

The Thunder needs to win more than it needs to rest. Besides, there’s time to relax.

There was no Thunder practice Tuesday, and Game 1 against the Lakers almost certainly won’t start until Sunday. That’s two games in six days.

Four of the Thunder’s top seven players are young enough to be in college — Durant (21 years old), Westbrook (21), James Harden (20) and Serge Ibaka (20). The Thunder has the quickest recovery rate in the league. At this time of year, nothing’s better than fresh legs.

Hopefully, Brooks will be able to use his starters in moderation, somewhere in the 30-minute range, but the Thunder has some issues to work out before facing the Lakers.

In the final seconds at Golden State on Sunday, Eric Maynor and Green played hot potato rather than taking a wide-open potential game-tying 3-pointer.



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