But Harden is back in Oklahoma City with his new teammates as the Thunder and Rockets face off in the first round of the NBA playoffs, which tips off at 8:30 p.m. today at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“He probably wants to have a good game, and we don’t want him to have a good game,” Kendrick Perkins said of Harden. “That’s just how it is.”
Oklahoma City took two of the three games between the two teams in the regular season. It averaged 121 points in the three outings.
But Brooks said he doesn’t put much stock in previous outcomes. Houston was going through personal tragedies during one game and was still trying to get used to the trades that changed the face of the team.
Even though Oklahoma city (60-22) is the top seed in the West, from past experience, the players don’t envision this being an easy series against the Rockets (45-37).
“Each year we know what to expect in the first round,” Durant said. “We know how tough it is. Most people say one versus eight seed is easy, or a two-seven series. We’ve never had an easy series. Last year was so tough against Dallas, it took all we had to beat those guys. With Houston, they are playing better than an eight seed. We have our work cut out for us. But we are calm, focused and know what we need to do.”
The Thunder’s Thabo Sefolosha believes the team’s demeanor is due to the battles this team has been through together, even without Harden
“All of us are really focused,” Sefolosha said. “The experience we’ve had from the last three years I think helps us in those situations. We don’t want to be too relaxed and feel too good about ourselves. We just want to go play our brand of basketball.”
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