OKC Thunder: Will Billy Donovan work with opponents on mutual scrimmage goals?

Coaches are sharing goals for scrimmages, will OKC Thunder coach Billy Donovan follow suit?

The OKC Thunder will be on the court this week in a scrimmage for their first action against an opponent since the March 11th game versus the Utah Jazz was postponed. No, these games won’t count toward standing, and no they won’t offer up playoff-type intensity. But, what they will offer is a first peek at how players look and where teams are at in their process to recapture timing and chemistry prior to resuming the season via eight seeding games..

For those of us starving for any type of basketball, this may as well be game seven of the NBA Finals. Sure, I’m overshooting a bit here, but in reality, hoop heads are delighted at the prospect of witnessing two teams lining up against each other.

We’ll also get to see who has undergone a metamorphosis during the hiatus.

To remind you, here is the schedule for all 22 teams upcoming scrimmages:

Wednesday, July 22nd:

  • Magic versus Clippers at 3:00
  • Wizards versus Nuggets at 3:30
  • Pelicans versus Nets at 7:00
  • Kings versus Heat at 8:00

Thursday, July 23rd:

  • Spurs versus  Bucks at 3:00
  • Trail Blazers versus Pacers at 3:30
  • Mavericks versus Lakers at 7:00
  • Suns versus Jazz at 8:00

Friday, July 24th:

  • Grizzlies versus 76ers at 3:30
  • OKC Thunder versus Celtics at 5:00 (4 PM CT)
  • Rockets versus Raptors at 7:30

Saturday, July 25th:

  • Lakers versus Magic at 12:00
  • Bucks versus Kings at 12:30
  • Heat versus Jazz at 4:00
  • Nets versus Spurs at 4:30
  • Clippers versus Wizards at 8:00
  • Nuggets versus Pelicans at 8:30

Sunday, July 26th:

  • 76ers versus OKC Thunder at 12:00 (11 AM CT)
  • Suns versus Celtics at 1:30
  • Pacers versus Mavericks at 4:00
  • Blazers versus Raptors at 6:00
  • Rockets versus Grizzlies at 8:00

Monday, July 27th:

  • Wizards versus Lakers at 3:00
  • Kings versus Clippers at 4:00
  • Jazz versus Nets at  5:30
  • Magic versus Nuggets at 7:00
  • Pelicans versus Bucks at 8:00

Tuesday, July 28th:

  • Grizzlies versus Heat at 2:00
  • Raptors versus Suns at 3:00
  • Spurs versus Pacers at 4:00
  • OKC Thunder versus Blazers at 6:00 (5 PM CT)
  • Celtics versus Rockets at 8:00
  • Mavericks versus 76ers at 8:30

*note all times in Eastern Standard Time and in the p.m.

Will Billy Donovan work with opponents on mutual scrimmage goals?

One interesting tidbit is opposing coaches are working together. That’s something that wouldn’t typically occur in these settings – which again, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so everything is unique. To wit, Rachel Nichols reported on NBA The Jump that coaches are reaching out to each other in order to work on specific things they need to accomplish and review in the scrimmages.

Nichols noted Erik Spoelstra spoke to both Quin Snyder and Luke Walton of the Jazz and Kings who the Heat will face in their upcoming scrimmages. Coach Spo told the Miami Herald he spoke to them about specific items they want to work on and evaluate.

Notably, it’s unlikely Spo would have reached out if it was an Eastern Conference opponent. That’s because citing specific areas a team needs to improve upon would only serve to give a potential playoff opponent an advantage (at least in the first three rounds).

It could also mean teams who expect to make deep runs (read make the NBA Finals) also might not be as open to working with other elite clubs on coordinating efforts.

If the OKC Thunder believes they could surprise and get to the Finals that would mean Billy Donovan isn’t likely to want to share too much with Brad Stevens. Then again reaching the NBA Finals is a long shot and wouldn’t happen for another few months. Therefore, it wouldn’t hurt either of the Thunder or Celtics to work together now so they can be at their best sooner rather than later.

The other team Donovan would likely be open to talking to Brett Brown of the 76ers. The one club he’s unlikely to want to work on coordinating efforts with is Portland and Terry Stotts. Although it’s unlikely the Blazers and Thunder will meet in the playoffs it still could be a possibility so cross that possibility off your list.

While teams will be focused on rhythm, timing, and chemistry being able to play three of the better clubs in the Celtics, 76ers and now-healthy Blazers will be helpful for the OKC Thunder. Each opponent offers different strengths that Billy Donovan can isolate on. Recalling the last match the Thunder played it was against the Celtics in Boston but both teams were missing core players.

Chris Paul pulled off the greatest steal of his season in that game and Dennis Schroder scored the basket that gave OKC the victory. We’ll have more for you on Friday prior to the scrimmage. For now, if you want a recap of events check out our post-game grades that followed the victory. And for statheads you can view the full ESPN box score to quell your interest on individual performances.

If you want to catch the OKC Thunder scrimmages the scrimmages on Friday, July 24th, and Sunday, July 26th will be available on the Thunder app or main website while the final scrimmage on Tuesday, July 28th (versus the Blazers) will air on Fox Sports Oklahoma.