Getting a convincing win over the Golden State Warriors means that the Oklahoma City Thudner inched a bit closer towards securing the number one spot in the Western Conference, which means home court advantage until the NBA Finals, if they get that far, for the first time since leaving Seattle, although they still need a couple of things to happen first.
At the moment, following their 116-97 demolition of the Golden State Warriors, who put themselves in a troubling situation considering the Houston Rockets badly want to get out of the seventh spot in the West (although on the other hand, meeting the Denver Nuggets at the moment is something no one wants on his plate), the Thunder have a 0.5 game advantage over the San Antonio Spurs.
|1||x – Oklahoma City||58||21||.734||–||33-6||25-15||9-6||37-13||105.9||96.6||+9.3||Won 2||8-2|
|2||y – San Antonio||57||21||.731||½||34-5||23-16||12-4||32-16||103.2||96.2||+7.0||Lost 1||5-5|
They win the tiebreaker between the teams thanks to their record in the conference after the teams split their season series at 2-2. While the Thunder would love to rest their players, or at least some of them, they still need to get the job done. Luckily for them, the road looks quite clear in the remaining three games of the season.
While ruining a playoff chance for the Los Angeles Lakers wakens even the strongest of tanking teams, the Portland Trail Blazers aren’t likely to be much of an opponent to the Thunder when the two teams meet on a Friday night. The other two games are at home against the Sacramento Kings and the Milwaukee Bucks, two games it would be quite shocking to hear the Thunder lose at if you wake up the next morning without any knowledge of what happened.
The Spurs, with four games left to play and a need for the Thunder to lose at least one of their next three, are in a different situation, playing with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, while Tim Duncan might also be seated pretty soon, as Popovich starts feeling that home advantage, not the end of the world when you look twice at the matter, is slipping away. The Spurs play Sacramento next, but then have to travel to play the Lakers and Golden State on the road, before finishing the season with a home game against the Timberwolves.
Considering the shorthanded factor that’s been hurting them for quite some time now, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them lose at least one of those games, especially the back-to-back road games in California.
Kevin Durant scored 31 points against the Warriors, but the way Carmelo Anthony seems to be fixed on the scoring title, his streak is over. He’ll probably live with that fact, knowing he plays for a better team, and he himself is a better player, adding 10 rebounds and 8 assists. The X-Factor, the unpredictable and sometimes intolerable Russell Westbrook added 18 points on 7-17 from the field, and his ability to keep it together in the next few games will decide if the Thunder manage to secure the top spot in the West.