Ten-game win streaks aren’t rare in the NBA. But they can sure make a team, especially a young team such as the Thunder, feel pretty good.
If Oklahoma City beats Phoenix tonight in the Ford Center, it will be the franchise’s longest win streak in nearly 14 years.
"It makes all the difference in the world just how you feel every day,” said veteran forward Nick Collison. "Morale is so much higher. It’s a lot more fun to come to the gym and the arena, knowing you’ve got a good chance to win.”
Ten-game win streaks have occurred about five times a season the past three years. Three teams have had streaks of 10 games or longer this season. OKC can become the fourth with a win tonight over the Suns, who will rest star Steve Nash.
A victory would mark the franchise’s longest win streak since the George Karl-coached Sonics won 11 straight early in the 1996-97 season.
"We continue to be humble, knowing that anytime a team can beat us,” said All-Star forward Kevin Durant. "We’re coming in with that mindset that we’ve got to be focused and be ready for each test that’s ahead of us. We’re kind of confident, but we’re not too arrogant.”
Utah, 17-2 the past six weeks, is the only team hotter than Oklahoma City. The Jazz and Thunder have gone from near .500 teams to contending for much higher stakes, such as home-court advantage in the playoffs.
Oklahoma City’s streak began after a season-worst three-game losing streak that included back-to-back heartbreaking losses at Memphis and Cleveland.
When the streak started, the Thunder was 11th overall in the Western Conference. By winning nine in a row, OKC has rocketed to fifth. The top eight teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs.
"We’ve been putting ourselves in close games,” said Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook.