Before the NBA season began, I predicted the Thunder would win 35 games. Nailed it. Nailed it with 24 games to spare. With Sunday night’s methodical 119-99 victory over Toronto, the Thunder now has a record of 35-23, which is considerably more impressive than my projected 35-47.
The Thunder’s winning percentage has crept into the 60s (.603). Last season’s final winning percentage was in the high 20s (.280). This year’s team is on pace to win 49½ games, which sounds ½-crazy. Winning 50 games suddenly seems like a reasonable request. Half-a-hundred wins from the league’s fourth-youngest roster? Seriously? Not even people on the Thunder payroll were loco enough to predict a 50-32 record. Against the Chris Bosh-less Raptors on Sunday, the Thunder trailed for a total of 16 seconds, led by as many as 28 points, had six players score in double figures and nine guys played at least 19 minutes. Thunder coach Scott Brooks rated it among his team’s top all-around efforts of the season. Memphis (24.5), Sacramento (24.8) and Minnesota (24.9) are the only teams younger than the Thunder (25.0) in average age. If the NBA were a 25-and-under league, the Thunder would lead the Grizzlies by 5½ games, the Kings by 15½ and the Timberwolves by 22½. Repeatedly asked to explain what in the name of Clay Bennett is going on around here, Brooks has used the same responses all season. It doesn’t matter if you talked to Brooks on Sunday, or on the second Sunday last September. By now, you know the drill: "One game at a time." "Work to get a little better each day." "Focus on playing hard." "Play together." "Stay humble." Last fall, Brooks never projected a certain number of victories this season, and he’s not about to start now. "I knew we would be a better team," Brooks said. Box score from Sunday's game