Thunder rookie Steven Adams had seen limited minutes in the first five games of the series against the Memphis Grizzlies.
That changed during Thursday’s Game 6 104-84 victory that forced a decisive Game 7 on Saturday night in Chesapeake Energy Arena as he played 20 minutes and blocked five shots.
He also hounded Memphis center Zach Randolph, even drawing a punch and a few choice words from the veteran that led to Randolph’s one-game suspension.
On Friday, the rookie talked about what he’s learned from playing Randolph and Marc Gasol along with playing in his first Game 7.
Q: How do you approach the matchups with Randolph and Gasol in this series?
A: “Me and Coach Mark Bryant over there, we do a lot of video on both of them. I’m just trying to take them out of their comfort and sweet spots. I’m trying to work harder than them and just to tire them out and stuff. That’s what I’m focused on.”
Have you picked up things from them you can use to expand your game?
“Yeah, Randolph just tries to bully dudes. That’s a good tip.”
Has he talked to you a lot out there?
“Not really. Maybe after a certain incident. He said a couple things.”
Are the instincts just there for you coming over from the help side to block shots like Thursday night?
“I just wasn’t even thinking, I guess. It just happened. I just seen Serge (Ibaka) and what he was doing. He was doing a good job. With these bigs, you can’t really go to help because you’re screwed if you go help and get off Randolph. Serge did a good job. I was just watching him. He stays locked into his man and at the very last second he goes. That’s what I’m just trying to do. I’m still learning.”
Being a rookie in your first Game 7, do you have an expectations of what to expect?
“No … Yeah, I don’t know. I guess it’s just like the other games but more intense.”
Is that how you approached Thursday’s Game 6?
“Me personally, I just wanted to go out there and play my (tail) off. It’s the same mindset for me in Game 7.”