OKC Thunder Winning Formula: Five statistical tipping points

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JANUARY 28: Russell Westbrook
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JANUARY 28: Russell Westbrook /
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Despite the OKC Thunder recent issues garnering victories there are five statistical factors which result in winning efforts.

Most of the NBA season is wrought with narrative and dialog about where teams will end up at the end of the season and who has the best roster and who can make a deep run in the playoffs. For the next couple weeks, though, all that matters are the cold, hard, lifeless standings. It doesn’t matter who looked better, who people think have the more talented roster, who is more fun to watch, all that matters is who has more wins (and maybe a few tie-breakers.).

And wins. Finicky things. A team can be better on a given night and still not come away with one. Sometimes it is seemingly earned over the first 47:40 seconds but somehow slips away in the waning moments of the game. Other times, they don’t deserve it at all but miraculously end up with it. Why? How? There is simply no telling.

But, there are patterns.

When a basketball game is lost by one point, it is easy to come up with examples of what could have been the difference. A couple missed free throws? A botched defensive assignment? An untimely turnover? All easy targets.

What about when a game is lost by 20 points? That’s a blowout, and it isn’t quite so simple to exact a “reason” that the game was lost.

Yet, in another sense, a 20 point loss is the same as losing by five points a quarter. And in that light, it may have been a few small plays. For example, a better contest on a three-point shot and a made layup, away from being a much closer game.

The Thunder’s “few small plays” have become fairly self-evident over the course of this season. After thorough examination I’ve narrowed the list to five factors which separate the wins from the losses.