- Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. CT
- Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma
- Radio: WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
CHICAGO – It’s hard not to think about a tough divisional loss after the fact, and let it linger. Until the Thunder tips off with the Chicago Bulls tonight, many Thunder fans will likely be doing exactly that. But for Head Coach Billy Donovan and his crew, the focus has been on the next game, the next opponent and the next opportunity ever since they dropped into their seats on the team plane leaving Minneapolis for the night flight to the Windy City.
Of course the Thunder won’t, and shouldn’t, completely forget about the loss to the Timberwolves on Friday night, but it can take those lessons learned and use them in a productive way. Saturday’s breakfast meeting and film session can help the Thunder prepare ways to avoid fouling and giving up second chance opportunities. Those two areas have been backbreakers for the Thunder so far this season, and Donovan wants his team to shut off those valves that are allowing opponents to score easy points.
“We try to make some corrections and find ways to get better from this,” Donovan said. “We did some really good things and positive things. We just needed to do it for a longer period of time.”
“Offensively we’re really talented, to be able to put up that many points in a game that we didn’t play that well,” Huestis said. “But to me, there’s not moral victories. We’ll take the lessons from tonight, look at the film and be ready.”
As for the Thunder’s opponent tonight, the Bulls are a bit of a moving target right now. The young ballclub picked up its first win of the season against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night, and were led by their frontcourt – veteran center Robin Lopez and rookie forward Lauri Markkanen. The Bulls had six players score in double figures in the win, and have gotten nice contributions thus far from guards Justin Holiday and Jerian Grant, who is the brother of Thunder forward Jerami Grant.
Offensively, the Thunder will have to just take care of business and execute in a way that generates open looks and high percentage shots regardless of who is taking them. The process of getting everyone on the same page and in a flow will be an ongoing one all season long, but the Thunder is taking strides daily, and will battle through the ups and downs that are inevitable. The most important part will be the communication and sharing of the ball.
“That’s what we’re going to have to do is try to find each other and get the best available shot,” Donovan said. “If there’s two guys on a guy, they probably need to pass the ball. These guys are of the belief that that’s how they need to play anyway.”
Overall, the Thunder is preaching patience. Given that the team is so talented and well rounded, it’s likely difficult to not be preoccupied with the wins and losses on a night to night basis, but it’s more imperative right now for the Thunder to be setting a tone for the style and identity that it wants to be. Being willing to go through some of the bumps and bruises that will inevitably come from that process is a virtue. Still team leaders see positive momentum, which they’ll take into Chicago tonight.
“We’re right there,” Anthony said. “There are some small things we have to correct and have to fix, but we’re right there.”