Anyone who has been subject to one of Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks’ many mundane messages over the past 86 games would have been in for a hair-raiser had they heard his media session Monday.
A four-word phrase defined his disposition. And it seeped into his speech on more than one occasion.
"We can beat them,” Brooks repeated.
That’s about as brash as Brooks gets.
But on the day before Game 5 of his team’s first-round series with the Los Angeles Lakers, Brooks’ bravado embodied everything about the Thunder’s attitude as it heads back to Los Angeles looking to take an improbable 3-2 lead in this best-of-7 series.
"We know that we have a chance to beat them,” Brooks assured. "We have to play a good game, maybe even better than a good game, on their floor.”
Newsflash: what the Thunder must do tonight at 9:30 is win. Lose and it could be time to turn out the lights on this playoff party.
A loss tonight would mean Oklahoma City has to win Game 6 on Friday in Oklahoma City and steal the closeout Game 7 on the Lakers’ court Sunday.
It could happen. But it wouldn’t be wise to bank on it.
Road teams are just 23-81 all-time in Game 7s in NBA history. That’s a winning percentage of 28.3 percent. Add to that, since moving to Los Angeles, the Lakers are 11-1 at home in Game 7. They lost the 1969 NBA Finals to Boston.
"It’s important that we come out and get off to a good start,” Brooks said. "We saw what a good start can do for our team. But if we don’t, we still know that we can always chip away and battle back and put ourselves in a position to win the game.”
The Thunder did indeed come back from down by as many as 17 in Game 1 before losing by eight.