I’ve long attempted to avoid much mention of any playoff talk, mainly because I don’t want to be Mr. Jinxy. But now at 35-23 and sitting firmly in sixth in the West, this is getting serious. Not just “Oh I hope we make the playoffs!” serious, but like, “Let’s get a good seed so we might be able to do some damage” serious.
Now I’m not getting ahead of myself. I still feel like a five-game losing streak could be lurking around every corner. Something that rhymes with schmimjury could happen at any time. The NBA season is a marathon and we’re just over 65 percent done. So don’t start booking hotels and plane tickets quite yet.
But looking at John Hollinger’s Playoff Odds today, Oklahoma City has a 97.2 percent chance of getting into the postseason. But that’s not the best part. As it stands today, the Thunder has a 10.2 percent chance of getting to the motherflipping NBA Finals. That’s a similar percentage to Denver, Phoenix, Miami, Atlanta and better than Boston, Dallas and San Antonio. I’ll pause for you to re-attach your jaw to your face.
Now of course these are just prognostications coming from a statistical formula, but the point remains: This is getting real. This isn’t just a fun run at the postseason where we laugh and dream of getting swept by the Lakers. This is turning into a season that you’re going to log into your memory and hold very close to your heart for a long time. I wrote about this once. Now I’m trying to drive it home with a railroad spike and sledgehammer. I’m not saying this team is actively going to compete for a championship (yet). I’m just saying that we’re moving from “Oh, we’re exceeding expectations!” into “Holy crap, we’re actually really good!” territory.
I had OKC winning 34 games before the season started. I’m wrong obviously about that. And I hope to be more and more and more wrong. J.G. covered all this in great detail last week as well. The team is blowing the doors off our expectations and making us redefine success. Nobody thought we’d be having not just playoff conversations, but playoff SEEDING conversations in March. Yet here we are.
I don’t know what it’s going to take to lock away a spot in the postseason. Something like 45 wins looks reasonable. And the Thunder would need to go just 10-14 to achieve that. But what would it take to get a GOOD seed? Whoever gets the two-seed in the West will probably win something like 55 games. OKC would need to go 20-4 the rest of the way to get there. I’m a shameless optimist, but I’m not that optimistic.
Now I know the Thunder’s hot and have won 11 of 13. They’ll cool again or run into a couple good teams on a back-to-back and lose a couple in a row. But I don’t think 50 wins is out of the question. The schedule is a bit backloaded with good Western Conference teams (18 of the last 24 are against the West), but half of the remaining games are at home. So that’s good news.
My point is, this is pretty darn terrific. I have no idea how the season will finish or where the Thunder will land or if they’ll actually land anywhere at all. But nobody thought we’d be having this conversation on March 1. Nobody thought we’d be talking playoffs, much less playoff SEEDING. Nobody thought Oklahoma City would have a serious MVP candidate. Nobody thought the NBA Finals would legitimately be in the conversation. But here we stand, 12 games over, sixth in the West and trending upwards.
I think I could get used to this.