Before the Oklahoma City Thunder’s game Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets, coach Scott Brooks — who looks like he should be a prep school math teacher — made an offer to his players. If they accumulated at least 20 assists, he would cancel practice on Thursday morning before traveling to Boston. If they didn’t have 20 assists, practice would be held.
The Thunder plastered the Rockets 116-99, compiling a season-high 26 assists in the process. Said Kevin Durant, “Scotty should be saying that a lot.” Added Eric Maynor, “Maybe he should tell us that every game.”
Yeah, maybe he should. The Thunder are last in the NBA with 17.3 assists per game. They could use a little motivation when it comes to throwing dimes.
Brooks should figure out another way to motivate his troops tonight. The powerhouse Celtics won’t be as easy to defeat as the Rockets. Especially if Kevin Durant (sprained ankle) can’t play.
Here are three things to watch tonight:
1. Russell Westbrook vs. Rajon Rondo
Westbrook is another point guard who played for Team USA this summer, while Rondo got cut (or whatever the hell happened). If my theory is right and Rondo is using Coach K’s slight as motivation, playing Westbrook only fuels the fire. The two point guards couldn’t be more different as players. Rondo’s a pass-first point guard, while Westbrook would rather look to score (see: the Thunder are last in the NBA in assists). Really, the two players only have two similarities: they rebound well for guards, and their jumpers are as crooked as scoliosis. Okay, Westbrook’s jumper isn’t THAT bad. I just heard the “crooked as scoliosis” line while watching Prison Break and figured I would use it.
2. Delonte West, game two
Everything was gravy for West in game one. He filled the stat sheet, made some nice plays, and even shared the court with Von Wafer without punching him upside the head. I expect West will continue to play well. He and Glen Davis should provide consistent bench production.
3. Pound it inside
Jeff Green won’t play tonight, which means Serge Ibaka should start. That makes the Thunder bigger, but let’s be honest: not big enough to bang with the C’s. Look for the C’s to pound it inside early and often. By the end of the game, if the Celtics stick to my gameplan, Nenad Krstic should want to throw another chair.