Of Oklahoma City’s 15-man roster, only five players have postseason experience. Only three of those five are in the Thunder’s rotation.
What that means is this group of guys have no idea what to expect when the regular season ends in a month and a likely playoff journey begins. But the Thunder got a small sample of postseason life in Sunday’s 119-111 win over Utah inside the Ford Center.
There was a sellout crowd of 18,203, the 20th of the season. A heightened level of intensity filled the floor, marked mostly by 48 minutes of bumping and battling but also two technical foul calls, assessed to Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and Utah bruiser Carlos Boozer.
But players with postseason experience will tell you that the playoffs reach even higher levels than what was on display Sunday night.
The question is whether the Thunder, likely the youngest team that will qualify for the postseason, is prepared for it.
"You can try (to prepare), but I think really just being in it is the best experience you can have,” said Utah’s Kyle Korver. "It’s really tough to simulate that.”
Korver should know. The seventh-year sharp-shooter made his playoff debut in his second year with Philadelphia. After averaging 11.5 points on 40.5 percent shooting from 3-point range in the regular season, Korver averaged just five points on 29.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc in the first round against Detroit.
"There is that much more buildup before the game,” Korver said. "You get a little bit more nervous, and guys play a lot harder.”
Crowd noise becomes much more of a factor. Referees call the game more loosely
"They let you play a lot more in the playoffs,” said Jazz forward Paul Millsap.