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Oklahoma City Thunder: Home-court advantage on the line

OKC's Nick Collison says matchup Monday at San Antonio is “big. I think you always want to be in the best seat possible going in (to the playoffs).”
by Darnell Mayberry Published: March 10, 2013

A year ago, almost everyone inside the Thunder locker room downplayed it.

Now, it almost seems as if they're trying to speak it into existence.

Home-court advantage is once again within reach as the Thunder's season hits the home stretch. After its 91-79 victory against Boston on Sunday afternoon, the Thunder can now overtake the Spurs for the top spot in the Western Conference standings with a win Monday in San Antonio.

This time, the Thunder isn't sugarcoating the truth.

“It's big,” said Nick Collison. “I think you always want to be in the best seat possible going in (to the playoffs).”

San Antonio sits a game ahead of the Thunder going into Monday's mega matchup. Should the Thunder win, the two teams would have identical records and OKC would temporarily own the tiebreaker having won two of the first three head-to-head contests. The final meeting, which figures to be just as significant, is scheduled for April 4 inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Of course, this all matters because the Thunder and Spurs are widely projected to lock horns in the Western Conference Finals for the second straight postseason. With no clear edge, the team with home-court advantage could be the last one standing.

And of course, that wasn't the case last year.

The Thunder knocked off the Spurs 4-2 to earn its first trip to the NBA Finals. But after falling into an 0-2 hole, the Thunder essentially overcame 1-in-16 odds in that improbable comeback.

When it appeared for a time that the Thunder was toast, the manner in which OKC forfeited the right to home-court advantage last season by going 8-7 in April was not forgotten. It didn't help, however, that the Spurs won 21 of their final 24 last year, including their final 10.

“We'd love to have home-court,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “But it doesn't guarantee that you'll win.”

That's a lesson the Thunder learned in heartbreaking fashion in the Finals. After facing the Heat with home-court advantage, the Thunder quickly lost it and the series, 4-1.

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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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