Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma City Thunder high in NBA rankings

by Berry Tramel Modified: January 21, 2014 at 2:20 pm •  Published: January 21, 2014

Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (9) defends against Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins (15)  Sunday.  Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (9) defends against Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins (15) Sunday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

The second half of the NBA season for both the Thunder and the Trail Blazers starts Tuesday night, with a Thunder-Blazer showdown in OKC. Each team has played 41 games, halfway home in the regular season. Each team is 31-10.

This is a big game for one primary reason. If Portland wins, it clinches a tiebreaker with the Thunder. The Blazers are up 2-0 in the series, so if the teams end in a tie, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head meetings. That could be the difference between the Thunder being seeded first or second, second or third, third or fourth.

In the Western Conference, playoff seeding is not all that important, as long as you’re good to start with, unless a series goes seven games. You always want the seventh game at home.

Halfway through the season, the Thunder still is treading water, to some degree. OKC is 21-4 with Russell Westbrook in the lineup but 8-5 without him. But if the Thunder beats Portland tonight, OKC regains the Northwest Division lead and is only a half-game behind San Antonio for the top seed in the West. And the Thunder plays at the Spurs on Wednesday night.

So let’s do an updated look at where the Thunder stands in the NBA pantheon. We’ll go to our triumvirate of ratings: RPI, home/road breakdown and point differential.

RPI

Just like in college, there is an NBA ratings percentage index that takes into account record (25 percent), your opponents’ record (50 percent) and your opponents’ opponents’ record). Here is the latest NBA RPI.

1. San Antonio .577

2. Indiana .576

3. Oklahoma City .572

4. Portland .566

5. LA Clippers .553

6. Houston .548

7. Golden State .537

8. Miami .533

9. Dallas .526

10. Phoenix .522

11. Memphis .512

12. Toronto .505

13. Minnesota .502

14. Denver .500

15. Atlanta .495

16. New Orleans .492

17. Washington .489

18. Sacramento .487

19. Brooklyn .485

20. Chicago .479

21. Utah .478

22. LA Lakers .474

23. Detroit .470

24. New York .467

25. Charlotte .461

26. Cleveland .455

27. Boston .450

28. Philadelphia .442

29. Orlando .436

30. Milwaukee .408

 

HOME/ROAD BREAKDOWN

Sometimes the schedule is a little askew. Get a bunch of road games early in the season, and you’re playing uphill. Get a bunch of home games, and you leave the impressive you’re better than you actually are. It all works out at the end, but remember, we’re judging things here at the midway point. So what you do is give a point for every road victory and take away a point for every home defeat.

1. Portland +11

1. Indiana +11

3. Oklahoma City +10

3. Miami +10

5. San Antonio +9

6. LA Clippers +8

6. Golden State +8

8. Houston +5

9. Dallas +4

10. Phoenix +3

11. Toronto +1

12. Denver even

12. Atlanta even

12. Washington even

15. Minnesota -1

15. Chicago -1

17. Brooklyn -2

18. New Orleans -3

18. LA LAkers -3

20. Memphis -4

20. Charlotte -4

20. Detroit -4

20. Cleveland -4

24. Utah -5

25. New York -6

26. Boston -7

26. Philadelphia -7

28. Sacramento -8

29. Orlando -10

30. Milwaukee -11

 

POINT DIFFERENTIAL

And some analysts believe that point/differential is the best sign of team prowess. That over the course of a season, dominance is reflected not by how many close games you win, but how many blowouts you win. Here are the NBA rankings in point/differential, based on 100 possessions per game:

1. Indiana +10.2

2. San Antonio +9.0

3. Oklahoma City +8.0

4. Miami +6.7

5. LA Clippers +6.1

6. Portland +5.3

7. Houston +5.2

8. Golden State +4.1

9. Detroit +3.6

10. Toronto +3.2

11. Phoenix +3.1

12. Minnesota +2.7

13. Dallas +1.7

14. Memphis +1.6

15. Denver +1.3

16. Atlanta +1.2

17. Chicago -0.1

18. Washington -1.3

19. New Orleans -1.9

20. Brooklyn -2.4

21. Sacramento -2.5

22. Charlotte -3.0

23. New York -4.4

24. Boston -4.6

25. LA Lakers -4.7

26. Cleveland -5.5

27. Orlando -5.8

28. Utah -8.1

29. Philadelphia -8.7

30. Milwaukee -9.8

So the Thunder ranks third in all three categories. Which is a very good sign, considering Westbrook has played just 25 of 41 games this season.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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