OKC Thunder Had Different Energy At Practice Ahead of Playoff Run

The Oklahoma City Thunder returned to the practice court on Wednesday with "First Day of School" energy according to bench boss Mark Daigneault.
Mar 14, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2)
Mar 14, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
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The Oklahoma City Thunder (57-25) returned to the practice court on Wednesday for the first time since nabbing the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The Thunder are the youngest team to accomplish such a feat, and the youthful roster had a child-like energy at practice on Wednesday.

It started from the moment the media was allowed into the practice court at Thunder ION, the Oklahoma City Blue roster lined the sidelines between the two courts taking in the NBA practice after the two groups came together to celebrate the Blue's recent Championship.

The Thunder players were louder, talking even more than usual, then the unthinkable happened. All three players, and Mark Daigneault, were at least outwardly eager to talk to the local media.

It started with Jalen Williams sprinting to the huddled-up media corp to kick off the availability, out-racing his PR handlers. This is not too unusual, Williams as you can guess from watching him, is always willing to be stuck in front of the Thunder backdrop and field questions.

Though, it did not stop with him. Gilgeous-Alexander, who is usually working a mile away at the farthest court from the assembled media by happen stance and putting in additional work, showed up to take his turn to talk to the media early. Jabbing at Williams fielding inquiries, wrestling with the head of Thunder PR Matt Tumbleson and joking along with the media for the duration of his time on the hot seat.

It wasn't until Mark Daigneault spoke to the media that these assumptions of a different vibe became a reality. The Thunder bench boss said it best, the Thunder returned to the practice court with a "first day of school energy," on Wednesday ready to attack their first postseason run.

Sure, Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort have played in the postseason before, but never in front of Loud City. For Gilgeous-Alexander he has never been in the playoffs as the top line in the scouting report and an MVP candidate, for Dort never in front of a single fan. This is all new to them, exciting, as if the tune of the hit show Love Boat was actually written to describe playing in the playoffs for the first time.

Rookie big man Chet Holmgren wasn't called upon to speak to the media, his time will come, but for now, he stayed working. Pounding the rock into the hardwood from the moment practice ended until nearly the entire 44-minute post-practice availability concluded.

There is not hiding it, just as fans are nearly lining up outside of Paycom, the players are chopping at the bit to tip-off game 1 of their NBA Playoff journey without even knowing their opponent yet.

Even the Thunder bench boss was in a joking mood when he was asked about his squinting habits Daigneault shared that it had nothing to do with his eyesight.

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Rylan Stiles


Rylan Stiles is a credentialed media member covering the Oklahoma City Thunder. He hosts the Locked On Thunder Podcast, and is Lead Beat Writer for Inside the Thunder. Rylan is also an award-winning play-by-play broadcaster for the Oklahoma Sports Network.