5 strengths OKC Thunder can utilize to win 8 ‘seeded’ games

Terrance Ferguson #23 of the OKC Thunder and Chris Paul #3 celebrate after the victory over the Boston Celtics. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
Terrance Ferguson #23 of the OKC Thunder and Chris Paul #3 celebrate after the victory over the Boston Celtics. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
OKC Thunder Chris Paul. /

OKC Thunder ever-improving record versus top teams:

Ultimately, a team that possesses many of the above strengths on their list should have an edge in Orlando. The OKC Thunder certainly should be included in that top tier given how many boxes they check off.

As noted above the situation makes the strength of schedule a little less clear in Orlando. Stats master John Schuhmann provides insight on how each of the particpants fared against each other.

Although the Thunder ranks 12th in Schuhmann’s chart the first 20 games of the season played a huge factor in this placement. Ten of the Thunder opponents in this segment are current playoff seeds (2-8) and another seven (3-4) are among the 22 clubs attending Orlando.

This is particularly relevant given it took the Thunder approximately 20 games to develop chemistry and integrate all the new players. Considering 12 of the Thunder losses (or half) to the 21 opponents in Orlando occurred in that segment speaks to their growth and how strong they were from that point forward in the season. From game 21 forward the Thunder record versus these same clubs was 20-12.

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To sum up, the OKC Thunder does utilize more than the typical seven players. Hamidou Diallo, Darius Bazley, Terrance Ferguson, and Abdel Nader all played meaningful minutes this season adding to the team’s depth. If Andre Roberson shocks and is remotely close to the player he was prior to his injury he becomes a pivotal defensive asset for Billy Donovan.

Defensively, the Thunder ranked ninth as of the season suspending play. Arguably, more importantly, OKC has the second-ranked fourth-quarter defense.

They are among the four best road teams and possess the best clutch time group. All in all, that’s an impressive set of strengths for the Thunder.

Cornerstone Shai Gigeous-Alexander raised his level of play in his first postseason experience and will be focused on showing why Thunder Nation is so excited about his stock. Steven Adams will be fresh as a daisy after all this time off which is something we’ve never witnessed since he’s usually nursing numerous injuries at this stage of the season. Danilo Gallinari wants to win a title and Dennis Schroder is eager to showcase his Sixth Man ability extends into the postseason.

Then factor in the intelligence of Chris Paul and his ability to balance the fine line of creating calm with competitive aggression and that’s a winning formula.

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