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OKC Thunder still has work to do

Even after clinching a 60-win season and the West's top seed, OKC focuses on its growth, knowing the playoffs are about to begin.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: April 16, 2013

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.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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A look at the Thunder's year-by-year improvement since the inaugural 2008-09 season.








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