Thunder coach Scott Brooks doesn't expect the Thunder to be completely calm before Tuesday's Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Some nervousness is to be expected.
“As a coach, I'm the same way; as a player, I was the same way,” Brooks said. “That's part of it. When you really care about what you do, when you're really concerned and you want to do a good job for your teammates, you should be nervous.”
He's also confident his team will settle down once the game starts.
“Once that ball's in the air, our players aren't going to be nervous,” Brooks said. “Our players are going to fly around the court and they're going to play good basketball.”
Brooks watched Magic Johnson on the telecast of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals talk about how he felt before big games.
“He had it and people think, ‘Magic, he was nervous before the games?' You're always nervous before the games until the tip off,” Brooks said.
BOSH ELEVATES HIS GAME
Chris Bosh was thought of as a clear third in Miami's “Big Three.”
His recent injury and the contributions in the three games since his return — especially in a 19-point performance in Saturday's 101-88 Game 7 win over Boston — have elevated his status. He hit three 3-pointer in the game after hitting just four in his playoff career to that point.
“He's hit threes before but not a lot,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He showed he can do it with the game on the line.
“That's a problem we've got to be aware of.”
BATTLING SCREENS CRITICAL VS. HEAT
Brooks sees a lot of similarities between his team and Miami.
Among the most prominent, the job the Heat do in running their offense with screens.
“You have a choice every time downcourt,” Brooks said of defending the screens. “You can run into it and stop or you can get through it or around it. I think our guys are committed to doing that.
“We're an athletic, offensive team, we score at a high level, our field-goal percentage is good but we're still a defensive team. We have to be able to score off our defense.”
Serge Ibaka figures to be a critical piece to defending the Heat.
“We have to make sure they get nothing easy,” Ibaka said. “We need to be aggressive every single minute.
“In these playoffs, you try to sleep and they'll start getting dunks and making exciting plays. We need to make sure everything they make will be tough.”
SERIES NOT KD VS. LEBRON
Brooks understands that much will be made of the Kevin Durant-LeBron James matchup.
“Just like last series with Russell and Tony Parker. It was never about those two, even though there's a lot of storylines there,” Brooks said. “It's always about us and about them. It's not about Kevin and LeBron. It's not about anything other than playing good basketball against a very good team.”
LETTING IT ALL SINK IN
Russell Westbrook said the fact the Thunder were playing head-to-head for an NBA title hadn't quite sunk in yet.
“Probably not yet,” Westbrook said. “And it probably won't until we start playing.”
Ibaka doesn't even want to think about it, especially about his family watching him play around the world.
“I just want to think about playing,” Ibaka said. “I know they will be watching though.”
BROOKS GIVES WESTBROOK FASHION GREEN LIGHT
Brooks briefly turned into a fashion critic after Sunday's practice, discussing the attire that Russell Westbrook in particular has sported during postgame news conferences.
“Russell can wear anything,” Brooks said. “He's great looking, he has an incredible body, a great smile. Anything, he's going to look good. I have to dress up nice to look decent.”
Westbrook and Kevin Durant have drawn attention for their wardrobe during the playoffs, most notably Westbrook's fishing lure shirt and red glasses without lenses.
“As long as they keep playing the way they're playing, I don't care what they wear,” he said. “I don't care if they wear glasses with no lenses in it, I will always wear mine with a lens.”