Although the logic behind it is quite understandable; it has always bothered me when teams in the Association keep their players on the bench for the last few games of the regular season so that they are well rested for the Playoffs. I have always sympathised with that family who could only afford to go to one game for the season; pick the last home game of the campaign and end up seeing the club’s “B-Squad” play the entire game, while the stars sit on the bench in their street clothes and laughing it up. Those fans don’t receive a refund or even an apology; that is just the way things are done in the NBA.
Oklahoma City Thunder fans will not have to through that scenario even though their club has already clinched a Post Season spot and will end up as either the first or second seed in the Western Conference. Thunder bench boss Scott Brooks told the “Oklahoman” that he believes that resting his stars Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and company would be “cheating the game” as well as the fans.
Brooks told the paper that he might think differently if he had a roster filled with aging veterans; however with the young players that make up his squad playing a 66- game schedule should not keep them from being at their best for the Playoffs. The Thunder head coach said “If we had a bunch of veteran guys in their 30s, there’s no question things would be different. But our guys, if you take out some of the guys, they’ll think I’m benching them twice a game. They want to play every minute. They love to play and they want to keep playing. It’s like pulling teeth to get five or six minutes out of them per half.”
Brooks spent his career playing in the Association as a journeyman; a scrappy guard who brought a blue-collar mentality to the floor every time he was put into a game. He has been able to instill that same philosophy onto his team; even though he has two of the best young players in the game in Durant and Westbrook. Although the pair usually dominate the scoring for the squad, the Thunder play a true “team game” which has allowed them to climb up the ranks so rapidly over the last few seasons. That comes from Brooks who has a pretty good shot of seeing his team representing the Western Conference in the NBA Finals this June.