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Rockets would pose a serious playoff threat for Thunder

If you didn't like the way Sunday went — a 125-120 Knicks win — then Thunder-Rockets shouldn't be your playoff preference. The Rockets are Knicks Lite.
by Jenni Carlson Published: April 7, 2013

But the Lakers wouldn't be nearly the matchup headache that the Rockets would be for the Thunder. Los Angeles doesn't want to run and gun, doesn't have a bunch of outside shooters.

The Lakers are a known playoff commodity for the Thunder, too. It has not only played the Lakers but also beaten the Lakers in a playoff series. The way the Thunder dispatched them last season is a big mental edge for Oklahoma City.

Ultimately, the Thunder is better than the Lakers and the Rockets. Who it plays in the first round should have no impact on the ultimate outcome of the series.

But after Sunday, the Thunder has no way of controlling where it finishes or who it plays.

The Spurs are in the driver's seat. San Antonio is 57-20 while Oklahoma City is 56-21, meaning that the Spurs win the West if they win out.

That's not a for-sure proposition. The Spurs have games remaining at Denver, vs. Sacramento, at the Lakers, at Golden State and vs. Minnesota. Still, if Gregg Popovich and the Spurs have a chance to win the West this late in the season, you have to like their chances.

So, as bad as things went on the court for the Thunder on Sunday afternoon, they were even worse in the standings.

“We're good,” Durant said after Sunday's game. “You know, we're good.”

He steadied his gaze.

“What do we need to panic for? We're good.”

Look at the big picture, and the Thunder superstar is correct. This is still one of the best teams in the league.

But look at the playoff scenarios, and the Thunder could be in better position.

One more bad outcome from Sunday's game.

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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