It is hard to believe, but going in to the final game of the regular season, the Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves in a “must win” game. While they have already secured a place in the post-season, their final seed and matchup is yet to be determined. The Thunder currently hold the #2 seed and would face the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs, but after two losses in a row (to the Pacers and the Pelicans) the Thunder are no longer guaranteed that second seed.
The Los Angeles Clippers are hot on the heels of the Northwest Division Champions and have the opportunity to leap frog the Thunder if OKC can’t close out the season with a win over the Detroit Pistons. The Clippers managed to sneak by the Denver Nuggets and will close out their season with a road game against the Portland Trailblazers.
While it would take a pretty dismal effort for the Thunder to drop their last game to the Pistons – especially when the game is played at Chesapeake Arena – nothing is guaranteed in the NBA. The Clippers also have a very tough ask of defeating the Blazers in their home at the Moda Center, but all options are still very much on the table.
The Thunder take to the court earlier than the Clippers though and therefore will have sealed their fate one way or another by the time the Clippers vs TrailBlazers game tips off. A win and they will hold down the #2 seed and can start preparing for Dallas in the first round, or they will have lost and will be rooting for their division rival Portland to avoid a first round showdown with the Golden State Warriors.
First round playoff matchups can be tricky, but you should always try to secure the highest seed you can. While a Bogut-less Warriors outfit might look like a tantalizing option, any team that makes the post-season has the chance to send you home early.
For the Thunder, their best option is to close out the season in winning style by defeating the Detroit Pistons and get ready for the first round battle against Dallas.