ESPN's NBA analyst John Hollinger answered questions about the NBA today. He addressed two specifically about the Thunder's chances in the playoffs:
Question: What are Thunders chances to make it out of the west?
Hollinger: Slim, I say. No. 4 seed in the West isn't a great place to be -- Denver is going gangbusters, Spurs await in round 2, and then you have to face L.A. or Dallas -- the last two without home court. I think OKC is a year away from making a deep run.
Question: Given that come playoff time benches are shortened significantly and one of Denver's greatest strength seems to be their depth, how realistic is a first round win over OKC?
Hollinger: You are correct, I think that will hurt them against the Thunder. If I'm Denver, I'm also not really excited about having Lawson guard Westbrook. Nuggets best shot at doing some damage would be to spring past OKC for the division title, which is no longer a ridiculous statement -- they're three back and still play each other twice.
Hollinger hasn't been high on the Thunder all year long, and apparently that hasn't changed here. I admire the Nuggets for staying in the hunt with a renewed energy now that the Carmelo Anthony drama has passed. They are the #1 scoring team in the league, but are average/poor in most other areas. Indeed, the first round would be entertaining, but in a close game, who takes the shots? Playoff games require clear primary scoring options, and at this point, I think the Thunder have the advantage.