The Thunder has dominated the Eastern Conference. No big deal, right? Wrong. It’s a pivotal factor why Oklahoma City is close to clinching a playoff berth and a contender for a top-four seed.
Heading into a three-game road trip to Charlotte, Toronto and Indiana, the Thunder is 19-6 against the East. Dallas (21-6) is the only Western Conference team with a better record. "I don’t know why it’s turned out like that,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "I just know our message and our approach has been consistent. No matter whether we play the East or West, a good-record team or not-so-good record team, we’re consistent and diligent in our preparation.” Oklahoma City is ahead of Portland, Houston and New Orleans in the standings in large part because those teams have failed to pad their playoff resumes against the East. Playoff experienced teams sometimes have a letdown when playing slumping teams like the Wizards, Nets, Pacers, Pistons or Sixers. Not the Thunder. "Teams that are playoff ready sometimes rest players or (get upset) or have a back-to-back,” said veteran guard Kevin Ollie. "What I like is every night we play with a chip on our shoulder. We take care of our business each and every night.” Despite their season-long success against the East, the upcoming road trip will be challenging. The Bobcats and Raptors are in the playoff chase because of stellar home records. Charlotte is 24-8 at Bobcats Arena. Toronto is 22-10 at Air Canada Centre. "It’s going to be very tough,” said All-Star Kevin Durant.