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Scott Brooks on the NBA Finals, Coaching Superstars, and Working With Russell Westbrook

Thunder head coach Scott Brooks was a guest today on the Dan Patrick show, which was in turn guest-hosted by Sports Illustrated NBA writer Chris Mannix. I have excerpted a few choice quotes below. 

If you would like to listen to the show, you can find a rebroadcast here:

Scott Brooks Sticks Up For LeBron | Dan Patrick Show

If you would like to read the transcript, Oklahoman editor Berry Tramel has it transcribed here:

Scott Brooks Breaks Down the Finals | NewsOK

Can you watch the Finals without sort of a little pain?

"No. You're watching ‘em with a pain in the pit of your stomach. But you're watching it with amazement. Both teams are playing really hard. It's hard to score. Last night was the first game seemed like anybody was able to score. Got off to a scoring game."

Why did Miami lose Game 5?

"J.J. (Jose Barea). J.J. finally got his game going. Against us (in the Western Conference Finals), he had two or three of those games. Last night, he was the difference...J.J., he changed the game around, the way he scores, the way he penetrates, kicks out to shooters."

Would you be concerned about LeBron James if you were coaching him?

"I would definitely want him to get more opportunities in the fourth quarter. But you have to give Dallas a lot of credit. They're taking the ball out of his hands. LeBron, he's not a scorer naturally. He wants to make plays for his teammates. You gotta admire the guy. He's not a selfish player...The guy's a playmaker. I think he's done a great job."

What was the Thunder game plan against LeBron?

"Just try not to turn the ball over. Once you turn the ball over against Miami, they are so quick to change it it into points. They get it out on the wings, they pitch ahead. Once they get a head of steam, you're not going to stop ‘em. We wanted to make sure we did not turn the ball over. Then, do not allow him layups. When he gets layups, all of a sudden, the outside shots become easier for him...The guy is strong as an ox. He's as fast as anybody in the league. He has a good handle. He sees the court very well. When he makes shots, good luck."

Would you talk with LeBron if you were coaching him at this point?

"With Kevin (Durant), I'm fortunate enough to coach one of the best players in the league. When he has struggling moments, you pick and choose your spots. When you have good teammates, they're always going to try to pump him up. ‘Hang in there, come on, let's go.' Coach Erik is probably picking those spots."

It seems like Rick Carlisle is coaching very well in this series?

"Rick is an excellent coach. He's done a great job making adjustments. Against us, he was really good. But he's been good for a long time. That zone, zone does bother teams. He throws it in in really good opportunities for their team to really change the tempo of the game...What Rick does, he throws it in there, two or three minutes at a time, so your team is not really in an offensive zone flow. You're running a man-to-man set."

Would you have beaten Miami in the Finals?

"Absolutely (dead-pan). It would have been a great series. Probably would have went five or six games."

You're out in California. Have you been talking with Russell Westbrook?

"I'm going to meet him this week. I love Russell Westbrook. I love what he does. He was hit pretty hard in this post-season. But without Russell, we're not in the postseason and we don't get to the conference finals. Did he play great? No. But he played good enough to get us 55 wins...I love what he's about. He's about work, he's about team. He's about getting better...But he's a worker, he's a great guy to coach."

Does Westbrook need to change the way he plays?

"No, but I think we've got to get better. One of the things I told the guys in our exit meetings, we've got to be a better passing team We can't just have one or two guys on the floor passing the ball. Kevin's going to have to be a bettter passer. Just on the offensive end, we have to move the ball much better, gotta play on the weakside. we gotta go multiple actions."