All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are familiar with the term "magic number," but they have no idea what that number is at the moment for the Thunder.
"I was waiting for you all to tell me," a smiling Durant said to reporters after Tuesday's practice.
To clinch a playoff spot, the Thunder's magic number was five against Phoenix, which had a late game Tuesday at the Los Angeles Lakers.
To clinch the Northwest Division crown, the Thunder's magic number was nine against Denver.
"I don't even know how that stuff goes," Westbrook said. "I just know if you continue to win, it's good."
The Thunder plays Utah at 7 p.m. Wednesday inside Oklahoma City Arena and with a victory officially would eliminate the Jazz as a potential threat for a playoff spot or winning the Northwest Division crown.
A magic number indicates how close a team is to clinching a playoff spot or regular-season title. It represents the total number of wins for the front-running team, losses by the opposing team in question or a combination of both.
Here is the magic number formula: Total games + 1 – wins by Team A – losses by Team B.
The plus 1 added to the number of games eliminates potential ties.
The number of regular-season NBA games is 82 (+1). Team A is the Thunder, which has a 45-24 record. Team B would be the team the Thunder is trying to beat out.
To clinch a playoff spot, the Thunder must finish no lower than eighth in its conference, which would make Team B the ninth-place team.
The Western Conference currently has a three-way race for ninth place among Phoenix (35-33), Houston (37-34) and Utah (36-35).
The Thunder's magic number for the playoffs: five against Phoenix (83-45-33=5); four against Houston (83-45-34=4); three against Utah (83-45-35=3).
If two competing teams play head-to-head, the magic number either remains the same or is reduced by two. So if the Thunder beats the Jazz tonight, it would reduce the magic number to one against Utah. A win would also give OKC a 3-1 season series advantage, thus a win in the playoff head-to-head tiebreaker and eliminate the Jazz.
In the Northwest Division, the Thunder is trying to beat out Denver (42-29), Portland (40-30) and Utah.
The Thunder's magic number for the division title is nine against Denver (83-45-29=9); eight against Portland (83-45-30=8); three against Utah (83-45-35=3).
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said his team's magic number is one, and will continue to be one – as in one game at a time.
"We don't really talk about it," reserve guard Eric Maynor said of the magic number. "Some of us are always on the Internet and stuff like that and we always know, but that's not one thing we talk about."
THUNDER MAGIC NUMBERS
To win the Northwest Division:
9 – Denver Nuggets (42-29)
8 – Portland Trail Blazers (40-30)
3 – Utah Jazz (36-35)
To clinch a playoff spot:
5 – Phoenix Suns (35-33)
4 – Houston Rockets (37-34)
3 – Utah Jazz (36-35)
Note: Does not include Tuesday's results