With a narrow loss in overtime against the Dallas Mavericks, the Oklahoma City Thunder have fallen further behind the conference leading San Antonio Spurs in the race for the #1 seed in the West.
The Spurs are still winning – extending their streak to 14 wins in succession – while being the first Western Conference team to lock up a spot in the post season. The Thunder are hot on the heels of the Spurs, but last nights loss makes the going a little tougher.
The Thunder welcomed Russell Westbrook back into the lineup, but he was unable to get a game winning jumper to fall and the Thunder eventually succumbed to Dallas in overtime. The Thunder now have a couple of days off before they take on the Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz at home. While these games look to be “easy wins”, there is no such thing in the NBA this season. A number of upsets have occurred and the Thunder will have in the back of their mind, the losses to the Lakers, Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns prior to going on their win streak.
A new streak will need to start in just a couple of nights if the Thunder want to avoid slipping further down the playoff seedings. The Los Angeles Clippers are riding a very successful wave of wins and sit just 2 games behind the Thunder and ready to pounce. They have won 9 of their past 10 and look ominous.
Gaining the #1 seed would secure home court advantage throughout the playoffs, but Thunder fans will recall that in 2012 they were able to upset the San Antonio Spurs and make the NBA Finals from the second seed. Should the Thunder be unable to close the gap before the post season commences, this will serve as some comfort for the franchise and its fans.
The Thunder have 11 remaining games and Westbrook should be available to play at least 8 of these. Although he will still be on restricted minutes, it will allow the Thunder to start to build some consistency and momentum at the right time of the year. With the Western Conference such a tight and contested race, no playoff series is going to be easy and the Thunder know that. They will welcome back Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha at some stage, but have to be pleased in their ability to have played rookies Steven Adams and Andre Roberson, giving them valuable NBA experience.
All eyes will be glued on the run home between all Western Conference teams, but no single game may be more important than April 3 game between the Thunder and the Spurs.
Tags: Oklahoma City Thunder