The NBA's Western Conference had been a fist fight since opening night, with multiple conference members making solid bids as the team to beat.
The Los Angeles Clippers won 17 straight. The Denver Nuggets won 15 straight and also nine straight. The OKC Thunder won 12 straight. The San Antonio Spurs won 11 straight. The Memphis Grizzlies won eight straight — twice.
Five teams have won at least 54 games and entering Monday, with only three nights left in the regular season, not a single playoff seed had been determined.
The West finally has been won and the No. 1 seed belongs to the Thunder (60-21), which sealed the deal with a methodical 104-95 victory over the Sacramento Kings (28-53) on Monday night.
But when the final horn sounded, only half of the sellout crowd of 18,203 was still in Chesapeake Energy Arena.
No balloons fell from the rafters. There was no formal public address announcement or a post-game ceremony of any kind. No champagne flowed inside the OKC locker room. There was no Gatorade shower for Thunder coach Scott Brooks, who was bone dry during his post-game news conference.
In only its fifth season of existence, the Thunder franchise has quickly grown accustomed to success.
Three days after clinching its third straight Northwest Division crown, OKC secured home-court advantage in the playoffs through at least the Western Conference Finals.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Thunder is the fourth-youngest roster ever to win 60 games in a season. Elias calculated OKC's average age to be 26.8 when weighted by minutes played.
In addition to becoming the 68th team in the 64-year history of the NBA to reach 60 wins, the Thunder joined the Boston Celtics (1955-60) as the only franchise to improve its winning percentage for five straight seasons, with two of those percentages being in the .700s.
“It feels good,” four-time All-Star forward Kevin Durant said afterward, “but we've still got a lot of work to do. … We've never done it before, so it's new to us, but it feels good and it shows our progression as a franchise each and every year.”
Brooks secured his first 60-win season in his 20-plus years in the NBA as a player and coach.
“It's great,” Brooks said. “You go into the season and you set some goals. We're like all the other teams in this league. We want to strive for excellence … We're hard on ourselves and each player is hard on himself, myself included. To get 60 wins is quite an accomplishment.”