"That’s the good thing about our team,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "We’ve got room to grow. We’re going to get better.”
Whether the Thunder improves enough to pose a serious threat to the NBA’s royalty is the question. The answers will soon come to light.
For now, Oklahoma City can marvel at a season that many thought would have resulted in 15 fewer wins. The Thunder’s 27-game improvement over last year’s 23 wins is the NBA’s best in 2009-10.
"That’s big,” said Jeff Green. "We’ve been working hard since Day 1, since the end of last season. We stuck together through the good and bad times. We learned after every game. Scotty has done a great job with us, putting us in positions to succeed. And it’s paid off for us.”
Near the end of Wednesday’s game, Green walked over to Kevin Durant, who was only seconds away from becoming the youngest player in NBA history to win the scoring title. The two third-year forwards reflected on how far they’ve come, from a 20-win season as rookies. Green reminded Durant how long they’ve waited to get here and joked about how ready they are to experience the game’s highest level of competition.
"It feels weird playing 82 games and feeling as fresh as we do,” Green said. "We’ve been banged up the past two years, knowing that the season is coming to an end and knowing that there is no playoff opportunity. So we’ll go into these playoff games ready.
"This is what we’ve been working for, and its finally here. Now we have to prove that we’re ready to play.”
Box score: Thunder 114, Grizzlies 105