The Oklahoma City Thunder won on their home court against the West's worst team the Minnesota Timberwolves, 113-99. The win is necessary, but does little to soothe the sting from the Thunder's blowout loss to the Clippers earlier in the week. Making that loss worse is the fact that on this same night, the Dallas Mavericks blew out the Clippers by 30. In other words, a team that is missing its star in Blake Griffin blew out OKC on their home court, which nudged the Thunder out of the playoff picture, and then L.A. didn't even have the courtesy of playing well against Dallas, which means that the Mavs still remain well ahead of the Thunder in the standings. We are now looking at only 17 games left in the Thunder's regular season.
The Thunder are now in a tie record-wise with the Pelicans for the 8th seed. However, due to the fact that the Pelicans own the tie breaker over the Thunder (3-1), New Orleans lays claim to that spot and would be the 8th seed if the teams remain tied at the end of the season. The Thunder must finish ahead of the 'Cans in the standing in order to eliminate the tie breaker factor.
The five, six, and seven seeds are all up in the air as the Clippers, Mavericks, and Spurs are fighting for position. The Pelicans were off for the night, but have three very winnable games in a row, facing the Nuggets, Bucks, and Suns before taking on the Warriors (would Golden State tank that game to try and keep OKC out of the playoffs?). The Thunder welcome the Chicago Bulls to the 'Peake on Sunday afternoon, followed by the Mavericks, Celtics, and East-leading Atlanta Hawks. It is a tough stretch at a tough time of the season, where even the game against Boston is no guarantee, as the Celtics are fighting for a playoff spot and have won 5 out of their last 6, including wins over the Grizzlies and Pelicans. We still do not know when Kevin Durant is going to return, but at this late stage of the season, if the Thunder drop multiple games this week, their season's aspirations could quickly be put on life support.
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