Thunder in the News: In the end, homecourt advantage is ours

Jerami Grant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, OKC Thunder (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jerami Grant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, OKC Thunder (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The end of the regular season was the typical night for an OKC Thunder fan. So much excitement as the Playoff picture fell perfectly place, yet that’s shrouded as we wait to learn more about Corey Brewer’s injury.

Wow. Just wow. An 82-game season of ups-and-downs ended in the best possible scenario for the OKC Thunder. Last night’s demolitions from Oklahoma City and Portland led the Thunder to securing the 4-seed and homecourt advantage against the Utah Jazz. It’s crazy to think that so many setbacks resulted in such a miraculous outcome, but such is life in today’s NBA.

Is this a sign of destiny? Who know’s. But it’s sure fun to think that way as we gear up for the Playoffs.

First round schedule is official

Before we get ahead of ourselves let’s focus on Utah first. The Jazz are a formidable foe that has a good chance of taking out OKC, mostly because of Rudy Gobert and their defense. The concern (for them) is their offense. Utah’s offense is a relative unknown because we don’t know how Donovan Mitchell will respond to a Playoff atmosphere/Playoff Paul George.

For now I refuse to make a prediction. This is one of the better series of the first round, and a lot of factors will determine who wins. I like Oklahoma City’s chances and truly believe they are a slight favorite, but we can’t overlook this extremely hot Jazz team.

Looking back on the teams’ four regular season matchups

It’s hard to take any major intel from these teams’ 2017-2018 history. All four of their matchups came in 2017, well before Gobert returned and Utah significantly took off. Utah’s lone win was also the lone game Gobert played in. It’s no surprise that Utah’s defense was the impetus for the victory.

If the Thunder are going to win this series, they’re going to have to play a strategy their used to defending. Pull Gobert (in OKC’s case Adams) out on the perimeter and force them to defend quicker guards. Keeping him away from the basket will open up the lane for Russell Westbrook and Paul George – sadly that’s easier said than done.

"Utah and Oklahoma City played each other four times during the regular season, but it’s been a long time since the final game of the season series, which took place back on Dec. 23."

Russ’ MVP season was more than a triple-double show

First off, congrats to the Brodie on creating history last night. I had no expectations of him coming close to a second straight triple-double season. Now for the topic at hand.

The conversation around Russ has turned to whether or not he deserved last season’s MVP. (Yes. A year later, people are still upset. That’s besides the point though). While we all can agree Russ’ triple-double push helped frame his narrative, the fact remains that his resume had much more than that little statistic. Luckily our own Austin Sternlicht broke down the other side of his MVP season. You know, the one that includes advanced analytics, crunch-time heroics and the never-ending fight to remain relevant after losing a fellow MVP.

"The fact remains however, that Westbrook’s 2017 season was special, and not just because of the triple-doubles. While the triple-doubles certainly helped, he won MVP for a multitude of reasons."

Next: Grading the Thunder's final regular season win of the season

That’s it for today’s issue of Thunder in the News! Oklahoma City’s Playoff experience starts in a mere three days – Thunderous Intentions will have you covered with everything you need to ensure you’re prepared for what’s hopefully a long and unexpected Playoff run.