Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he doesn't let back-to-back games affect how long he keeps a certain player in the game. During Thursday night's overtime victory at Portland, small forward Kevin Durant played all but 32 seconds while Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook played nearly 46 and 44 minutes, respectively.
"You look at each game and you do whatever it takes to put your team in a position to win," Brooks said. "You play your best guys on the floor as many minutes as you can get out of them, and then you go to the next game and do the same thing. Guys have to play well and you want the minutes to be hard.
"This part of the season, back-to-backs are little bit different than back-to-back games in the middle of March. It just depends on how you're playing, how you're feeling. Our guys are well-conditioned. They can handle back-to-back games. I don't look at it, 'I have to rest this guy this many minutes.' Every game is its own game."
Brooks said it helped that Thursday's game was nationally televised on TNT, "Because there are long timeouts. It's a long game and there are a lot of rest periods in between."
The Thunder ranks dead last in 3-point shooting at an atrocious 19.1 percent, is struggling from the field at 41.3 percent, and Sunday faces one of the league's elite defensive teams in the Boston Celtics.
"Boston is one of the best teams on both ends of the floor," Brooks said. "Their offense is really good. They do a great job of spacing and passing. They've got guys who have played together for a while and they've had a lot of great years in the league. They're hard to score on. We have to play well, and we have to do it for 48 minutes.
"When you're a championship-level team, you have a lot of weapons, and that's what they have. You can't just focus on one guy. You have to focus on all of them. You've got to do your best to make them take tough shots."
RUNNING WITH RONDO
Westbrook has faced a steady stream of outstanding point guards so far this season, and it continues Sunday in Boston's Rajon Rondo.
"Rondo is as good as any guard in the league right now," Brooks said. "He's an All-Star. He understands what his game is and he does it every time. He's a playmaking point guard. He makes his team better by his decisions."
Rondo is off to the best start in NBA history with 93 assists in the first six games (15.5 per).
"We're going to have to change things up on him," Brooks said. "A lot of the great players you give them the same daily diet, they're going to look at it and tear it apart. We're going to mix it up. We're going to have to switch. We're going to have to double. We're going to have to take it out of his hands. But the guy does that to everybody. He's quick, he's strong and he's heady. He knows how to play."
Thunder power forward Nick Collison, who has yet to practice or play this season, had an MRI taken early last week and said the results were good.
Collison said he has intensified his work during rehabilitation. Though he still has no exact timetable on his return, Collison said he is encouraged with the test results. "Still going forward," Collison said. "It's good to be moving forward rather than moving backward."
Backup center Byron Mullens, who has been inactive all season, is battling the flu. He did not make the West Coast trip last week and was not at Saturday's practice.