OKC Thunder vault to fifth – set sights on home court seeding

OKC Thunder (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images) /

With eight weeks and 24 games remaining in the 2019-20 schedule the OKC Thunder climb to the fifth seed with bigger targets in mind.

Go back to preseason and look for any analyst or media pundit who picked the OKC Thunder to be a playoff contender this season.

I’ll save you the effort and tell you there aren’t many. Former OKC Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins was among the few (possibly only one) buying this season wasn’t going to be a tank effort.

Some (like Thunderous Intentions writing team) thought there was a chance the club would vie among the chase pack to capture a lower seed on the ladder. Through the early part of the season, the Thunder were on target to be lottery bound.

Then around Thanksgiving the team finally found their groove and began stringing together wins often via clutch time victories. Simultaneously they began winning on the road. Most impressively, they started to overpower the very elite clubs like the Raptors and Nuggets.

Earlier this week TI ran a piece focusing on the stretch run schedule. In it, we noted how schedules can make huge impacts in closing out the season. The stretch run is a time for teams to make tweaks, get everyone healthy and ideally begin building momentum with the hopes of peaking in May and June.

It sure isn’t about revamping your squad or starting over from fresh.

Flash forward literally a few days and many of the points above are factoring. In the East injuries to Ben Simmons and as of Tuesday night Joel Embiid will affect the 76ers. The latter with an unknown level of severity or time to be missed. It could essentially wipe out any chance of the 76ers gaining a home court seed.

More from Thunderous Intentions

Then again, the Miami Heat are also reeling losing to sub .500 teams and not just on the road anymore as they lost to the Timberwolves at home in the clutch – both things that aren’t their tendency.

In the West, a finally fully healthy Pelicans club is benefiting from health. They’ve already leaped over the Spurs. Meanwhile, the Blazers are without Damian Lillard (groin) at least until early March.

The Cinderella Grizzlies are mired in the hardest schedule and having to play without either Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee) and Brandon Clarke (hip) both lost at least until early to mid March respectively. They’ve lost four games in a row, have fallen under .500 and suddenly seem susceptible to be unseeded.

But, the big news in the West and the item which affects the OKC Thunder the most is the reeling  Jazz. Utah is currently on a six game home stand but has lost four games in a row. In less than a week they’ve fallen from fourth to six. Think about that when you consider the Thunder trail the Rockets, Clippers and Nuggets by two, three and four games respectively.

To that end, in three days of week 19 play and a combination of each team playing between one and two games the Pelicans have cut the gap between them and the Grizzlies from to 4.5 to 3 games and the Jazz dropped two spots.

OKC has played each of the Nuggets, Clippers, and Jazz twice this season and in all three cases the series is tied 1-1. Likewise in every case there are two games to play versus these teams.

Both Jazz games are in OKC while the Nuggets and Clippers will each host a game and travel to OKC for one. Considering the shifts in the early going of week 19 that means each of those games could be the determining factor on where the teams end up seeded.

NBA 2020 Mock Draft 1.0 – Options abound for Thunder. dark. Next

Fasten your seltbelts Thunder Nation!