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‘Magic numbers' tell the tale of OKC Thunder's playoff hopes

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: March 22, 2011
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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.

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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

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