Thunder coach Scott Brooks resisted the urge to hold practice Sunday, saying he felt his team needed and deserved the day off. The decision gave Thunder players Saturday and Sunday off, a rarity that Brooks likened to a high school team's schedule.
“We've had a tough stretch of games the last three or four weeks, and we have a tough stretch of games coming up,” Brooks said.
With 27 games in the books, minutes will soon become more important to watch. So far, the Thunder has benefited from a few early season blowouts, which allowed the starters to sit the entire fourth quarter in four games this season. Still, the core three of Westbrook, Harden and Durant are near or above their minute averages from last season.
Durant is averaging 38 minutes this year after logging 39.4 through 27 games last season. Westbrook is averaging 35.1 minutes, just 1.5 fewer than his per game rate last year. And Harden is up significantly, now at 31.4 minutes after averaging just 25.5 through this point last year.
But with this Thunder team, 22-year-olds Harden and Serge Ibaka, as well as 23-year-old All-Stars Durant and Westbrook, might not need the rest as much as veterans such as Kendrick Perkins, 27, Nick Collison, 31, and Nazr Mohammed, 34.
“I think everybody needs time off no matter how old you are in this league. But you just have to be wise about it,” Brooks said. “I've been on teams when you had 33- to 36-year-old guys. They practiced, but they only practiced a third of the practice. They would warm up and warm down. They tried to trick the whole team like they were practicing. But that's part of being a veteran. You've earned that right.”