Salt Lake City– The Oklahoma City Thunder kick off the 2013-14 NBA season with a test against the Utah Jazz at Energy Solutions Arena. Kevin Durant is missing his right hand man Russell Westbrook to start the season as he recovers from season ending surgery last may in the 2013 playoffs against the Houston Rockets. Reggie Jackson is starting in his place.
The Jazz lost two key players in Al Jefferson (Charlotte) and Paul Milsap (Atlanta) to trades, but gained several players from the lottery during the off season, acquiring Trey Burke and John Lucas III. The young point guard tandem and bigs Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors will look to make the Jazz respectable in a season of rebuilding.
The Thunder on the other hand have other issues facing them as they start the season. Jackson made several key starts in has maturing process as the second man at point for Oklahoma in last years playoffs. His play is crucial as a facilitator and as a scorer. It will be hard to make up for the explosive play of Westbrook for a player in just his third year as a pro.
Durant, at 28.1 points a game last year was the leagues second leader scorer for average behind Carmelo Anthony’s 28.7 (New York). In his sixth year as a pro, Durant has developed into a superstar, taking his team to the western conference finals once and to the finals two years ago. The return of Westbrook means a serious push toward the NBA finals next June, something held just within reach that last few seasons.
“We have 82 opportunities to put our best foot out there and play hard, aggressive basketball, and we take pride in that,” Brooks said.
Unfortunately they will have to play extra hard without Westbrook, who per ESPN, could be back as early as two weeks from today. But that wont stop them from being aggressive.
“We have to play to our capabilities,” Brooks said. “We want to be a physical team. We definitely don’t want to get pushed around no matter who we play… We want to establish what we do and we want to do it consistently for 48 minutes for 82 games.”
The game can be seen on Root Sports and Fox Oklahoma City, 6:00 PM Mountain.