DALLAS — Heaven knows how many times we've heard coaches and players blurt out they're approaching things “one game at a time.” When it comes to what the Thunder is about to face, however, perhaps that's the best approach.
On Thursday afternoon, OKC embarked on the longest road trip in the franchise's five-year history — a six-game, 10-day venture against four projected playoffs teams and the NBA world champions from two years ago.
It begins Friday with a nationally televised (ESPN) 8:30 p.m. game at Dallas and that is followed by: a Sunday 7 p.m. game at Denver; a Tuesday 9:30 p.m. game at the Los Angeles Clippers; a Wednesday 9:30 p.m. game at Golden State; a 9 p.m. game next Friday at Sacramento; and concludes with a 2:30 p.m. game Jan. 27 at the Los Angeles Lakers.
To approach such a gauntlet in its entirety could easily prove too daunting, which is why the “one day at a time'' cliché might actually be beneficial here.
“You really have to focus on one game at a time, especially in the Western Conference,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “You have so many good teams, if you look at our (January) schedule as a whole, it can become overwhelming at times. That's why I've never talked to the team much about our schedule, unless I have to so we can all plan ahead at certain times.”
All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook pleaded ignorance to what lies ahead.
“Honestly, I don't even know who we play, or in what order,” Westbrook said. “I know we go to Dallas and that's it. I don't even know what's after that. You start looking at the games ahead and you start losing track on the games at hand.”
You can bet Westbrook, who played collegiately at UCLA and was raised in nearby Hawthorne, knows full well he returns to his old stomping grounds not once, but twice in a five-day span.