Remember back in the day when you had an aspiration and a family member or perhaps a teacher encouraged you to reach that goal? Whoever that supportive person might have been in your life, at one time, surely suggested at least one old-fashioned approach as a means to finding success.
Write it down. Say it aloud. Sacrifice, work hard and sacrifice some more.
The Oklahoma City Thunder seems to have done away with those first two time-tested techniques. Ever since Kevin Durant declared last June that, "Anything less than the playoffs is a failure,” players and coaches have avoided talk of the postseason like they’ve been placed under a gag order.
This from a team that, before Saturday’s loss at Cleveland, sat in seventh place in the Western Conference standings. A team that today still sits 2 1/2 games out of the fourth seed, the final spot that brings home-court advantage.
Rather than shining a spotlight on the playoffs, the Thunder has adopted the clichÃ©d "one-game-at-a-time” philosophy. Thunder coach Scott Brooks preaches to his team the importance of getting better every day, staying committed on the defensive end and playing hard every night.
"There’s a lot of games left,” Brooks said. "We’ve never focused on that from Day 1, and there’s no reason to start now... When the time comes, if it does come, we will talk about it.”
But what, if any, benefits come with having a playoff mindset?
"It makes it a lot more fun when you do know you have a chance,” said Nick Collison. "And it does make each game more important. So I think it is positive to have those aspirations and goals.