At the end of the night, after the Thunder had finished off the Sacramento Kings, officially securing the top spot in the Western Conference and its first 60-win season, the reaction inside Oklahoma City's locker room Monday evening couldn't have been more bland.
There was no bottle-popping, or bubbly pouring, or even blaring music playing.
Players just dressed and departed.
“Nobody even mentioned it,” said Russell Westbrook. “We don't play for that. We play to win, but obviously we've got bigger things to worry about.”
That understanding has been the backbone of the best season of basketball in Oklahoma City's brief NBA history.
“I think it's just becoming more mature, becoming older,” Westbrook said.
No matter what happens in Wednesday's regular-season finale against Milwaukee, the Thunder will finish the year with a better winning percentage than it did a year ago. It will mark the fourth straight season that OKC has finished with a higher winning percentage than the previous year.
In the inaugural 2008-09 season, the Thunder finished with a .280 winning percentage. That was followed by a .610 winning percentage, a .671 clip in 2010-11 and a .712 winning percentage last season.
With a win against the Bucks, the Thunder can finish with a .744 winning percentage. A loss would land the Thunder at .732.
“I think our mindset's been good,” said Nick Collison. “I think we've shown some growth in how we approach games.”
Growth has been the theme of this season.
Individually and collectively, the Thunder has improved on so many fronts that the team has seamlessly stayed afloat as a championship contender despite a roster shake-up that saw James Harden get traded to Houston five days before the start of the regular season.
The Thunder's mantra throughout this journey has been “just come to work every day.” It's a workmanlike mentality the team says is the reason for its success.
“We're careful to not look too far ahead or look behind us,” Collison said. “We're careful to try to focus on what we're doing today. I think that's why we've been more consistent this year.”
That's the thing Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he's most proud of in what's been a special season.
“Our consistency of just staying focused during an NBA season, which is hard,” Brooks said. “There are so many times that you can get distracted. There's so many times that you can get sideways. But we've always stayed together. We've always focused on us. But just that consistent approach is hard to do. But I'm proud that we've done it.”
Along the way, we've seen marked development, from Kevin Durant on down the line. All of it is expected to enable the Thunder to make another deep playoff run.
Durant has become as efficient as ever and created more scoring chances for teammates. He's also become a better and more vocal leader.
Westbrook has picked up the slack left by Harden as a playmaker and blossomed into as much of a focal point for opponents as Durant with his fearlessness and fervent hustle.
Thabo Sefolosha has solidified his 3-point shot, and his best season from behind the arc has been a huge boost to the team's historically average perimeter shooting.
Serge Ibaka has expanded his offensive repertoire, Reggie Jackson has grown confident as a ballhandler and finisher at the rim and Kendrick Perkins has supplied critical low-post defense all season.
And you can't ignore Kevin Martin. The team's most unassuming player has been unsung all season but one of the Thunder's biggest factors in the franchise moving forward. Martin, after averaging at least 20 points as a go-to guy for five of the past six seasons, willingly accepted a lesser role all year for the greater good. He averaged just 10.1 shots and 14 points, the lowest totals since his second season.
“You've got to give credit to Kevin Martin, the way he blended with the team and has been playing for us since Day One,” said Sefolosha. “And the rest of the guys, everybody has been doing a conscious effort of keep improving for the better of the team.”
The conference's best record and the first 60-win season that Oklahoma City has ever seen has been the result.
It's all worthy of celebrating, even if the Thunder cannot.
“I mean, that's tough to do,” Westbrook said. “So you've got to be proud of that.”
LEAPS AND BOUNDS
A look at the Thunder's year-by-year improvement since the inaugural 2008-09 season.