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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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/articleid/3550986/1/pictures/1384583">Photo -  Kevin Durant, right, and the Thunder are trying to wrap up a playoff spot. Photo by John Clanton, The Oklahoman
Kevin Durant, right, and the Thunder are trying to wrap up a playoff spot. Photo by John Clanton, The Oklahoman

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

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