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OKC Thunder: Rather than rest up for the playoffs, Thunder is battling playoff-bound teams

by Darnell Mayberry Published: April 10, 2013

No need to rely on faux injuries for the Thunder to take nights off.

Rather than rest up as this regular season snakes to an end, as teams like the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs are doing, Oklahoma City has one goal.

Finish strong.

“All season we've been trying to take advantage of each game as an opportunity to get better,” said Nick Collison. “We've had a few games where we didn't do that. We didn't play well and get better. But for the most part I think we've seen improvement, and we've got four more opportunities to try to get good habits going into the playoffs.”

The schedule has helped.

Yet another tough test is on deck Thursday night when the Thunder faces Golden State inside Oracle Arena. It will be the fifth straight of its kind to start the month of April.

Like all four OKC opponents before them, the Warriors will walk into their game against the Thunder rolling and playing for a purpose. Golden State has been busy fighting off Houston to stay in sixth place. The Warriors are a game ahead of the Rockets and have won eight of 11.

On Tuesday, the Thunder played a road game at Utah against a Jazz team fighting the Lakers for the eighth and final seed. Utah entered that game having won seven of eight.

On Sunday, the Thunder hosted New York, which had won 11 straight going into the showdown, was riding a scorching Carmelo Anthony and was looking to secure its first 50 win season since the 1999-2000 season while also staying in second place in the East standings.

The two games prior to that were a back-to-back set against San Antonio in OKC and a road game at Indiana. The Spurs were battling with the Thunder for the top spot in the West, while the Pacers had won five straight and eight of nine going into the matchup and was playing for its first Central Division title in nine years.

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