Of course, there's always the James Harden factor. It was Harden's preseason trade to Houston, remember, that shaped this season and, like it or not, made this year's successes or failures a referendum on that daring deal.
In many ways, the Thunder must be applauded for how it has kept on trucking without its former third best player and reigning Sixth Man Award winner. But for a team that fell short in the NBA Finals last season, regular-season results no longer matter, and it's now Harden's absence that has ironically become a chief concern regarding the Thunder's playoff prospects this time around.
Expectations, however, won't allow for excuses.
The question is, what are we to make of this funk?
Last year, we saw a similar slump at the tail end of the season. The Thunder went 11-5 in its first 16 games out of the All-Star break a year ago as well. Additionally, OKC went 8-7 in last year's final 15 games. An 0-2 start in the final 15 this year could set up an identical mark.
Last year's finish obviously was forgotten when the playoffs started. It's possible this year could shake out the same way.
But unlike last season, this year's Thunder squad doesn't have Harden to help right the ship in the postseason.
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Thunder at Magic
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Where: Amway Center
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37/HD 722, DirecTV 679, Dish 441, U-Verse 754/HD 1754)
Radio: WWLS-FM 98.1, WWLS-AM 640
Three things to know
* This is the second and final meeting between the Thunder and Magic. The Thunder won the first game, 117-104, in Oklahoma City on March 15.
* The Thunder led by as many as 27 points in the first game against the Magic. Orlando stormed back in the second half and cut the deficit to four late in the game.
* Magic center Nikola Vucevic did not play in Orlando's last game because of illness.