The Peake wasn't packed at tipoff. There were more empty seats than normal when the game started, even though the vacant seats weren't necessarily easy to spot because they were draped in blue shirts.
Thunder senior vice president for sales and marketing Brian Byrnes said there were about 1,800 fewer fans at tip than were in their seats on average for the three playoff games against Houston. A noon start on a Sunday no doubt played into that.
“Those preachers need to finish up quicker,” Byrnes joked. “Noon's tough. We don't look at it as lack of interest … because they're here.”
True enough. By the start of the second quarter, most of those empty seats were filled.
“While we expect a full house at tip off, we know that our fans did their best to manage family obligations, church services and schedules with the short notice,” Byrnes said. “If 10 percent arrived after tipoff, they were all there when we needed them.”
Because so many Thunder fans wear the T-shirts provided by the team for each playoff game, it's easy to see who's not wearing one. Among those who usually don't — Kevin Durant's family and friends sitting across from the Thunder bench.
That changed Sunday.
Durant's younger brother Tony sported the team-provided T-shirt.