The Thunder won’t make the NBA playoffs its first year in Oklahoma City.
But they can influence which teams reach the postseason and where they’ll be seeded.
Nine of the Thunder’s final dozen games are against playoff contenders.
"It’s an exciting time of year,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "Our players understand that. I don’t know if we’re going in trying to be everybody’s spoiler. But we want to be able to compete and get after every team we play. These are games you learn from.”
Similar to last season, the Western Conference is a jumbled mess with less than a month left.
Only four games separate six teams between the Nos. 2 and 8 seeds.
"With everything so tight and teams trying to get every win they can, it’s fun when you beat one of them and spoil the party a little bit,” said the Thunder’s Kyle Weaver. "I’m sure some teams think they can come in here and just roll over on us.”
That was the case a couple of months ago.
But most visiting teams now comment that the Thunder no longer is a guaranteed win, especially in the Ford Center.
Oklahoma City owns home wins over San Antonio, Dallas, Portland and Utah.
The Thunder also has defeated Eastern Conference playoff contenders Philadelphia and Detroit and Chicago.
"We’re just trying to concentrate on what we’re doing,” said Nick Collison. "I don’t have motivation to mess somebody up.