As the NBA regular-season hits its stretch run, potential playoff matchups are beginning to formulate.
Western Conference seeding, both at the top and bottom, remain up for grabs. But over the course of the season, clear conference tiers have been established. And with it, a select group of teams have emerged as potential first round foes for the Thunder.
Here is a breakdown of the five teams OKC could be squaring off with come late April, from most to least likely:
Vs OKC: 1-3
Current seed: Seventh
Appeal: Avoid at all costs
Evaluation: The Thunder would be favored in this series. And OKC would likely win it. But five, six or even seven grueling games against Memphis’ bruising frontline and hounding perimeter defense would take a physical toll. And that might be a problem with three series still to go. Plus, the Grizzlies are the most battle-tested of this bunch, with fresh memories of knocking the Thunder out last season.
Vs OKC: 2-1
Current seed: Eighth
Evaluation: Don’t let the last 10 days fool you. The Thunder lost both of its most recent matchups with the Mavs, but it’s still a team OKC stacks up well against, beating them the previous 11 times. Dallas is scrappy, skilled and well-coached. The Mavs have overachieved all season. But in an amped up playoff series, the Thunder would outathlete them.