The Main Event: Oklahoma City starts its drive to the playoffs with a key stretch at the Ford Center

BY MIKE BALDWIN AND DARNELL MAYBERRY, STAFF WRITERS, MBALDWIN@OPUBCO.COM AND DMAYBERRY@OPUBCO.COM Modified: March 22, 2010 at 12:23 am •  Published: March 21, 2010
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photo - The Thunder has celebrated a lot at home this season, especially from the middle of December to now. OKC is 16-4 at the Ford Center in that time period. PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN
The Thunder has celebrated a lot at home this season, especially from the middle of December to now. OKC is 16-4 at the Ford Center in that time period. PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN

A stretch like these next four games would come around every so often on the Oklahoma City Thunder's schedule last season, and players knew the odds of winning wouldn't be very good.

"When you're 20 games under like we've been in the past, you look at the Lakers and it doesn't look like you've got a shot. That's just reality," said Oklahoma City's Nick Collison.

But the attitude has shifted. The Thunder will enter this four-game homestand against San Antonio, Houston, the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland with confidence.

"It's a much different feel," Collison said. "We feel like if we play well we've got a shot. So that's a good feeling, to come to the arena knowing you've got a shot to win if you do your job."

Tonight's game against the Spurs marks the beginning of a treacherous final 14 for the Thunder. They could be the difference between winning home-court advantage in the first round, falling to the eighth spot or, worst, out of the playoffs altogether.

The Thunder is just 2-9 against the Spurs, Rockets, Lakers and Blazers.

"They're four of the best teams in the West, four teams that play a physical brand of basketball," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "We have to bring our hard hat every game. We can't have a soft performance and expect to make it a game. All four teams bring toughness and energy to the game."

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