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Thunder gearing up for the playoffs

by Darnell Mayberry Published: February 27, 2011

In one stroke, Sam Presti shifted our focus.

With last Thursday's trade that sent Jeff Green to Boston and brought Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City, the Thunder passed a pretty significant point in its process.

The regular season has become less relevant.

A Sunday showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers ends in a 90-87 defeat -- who cares? The loss drops the Thunder to 36-22 and signals the first three-game skid of the season -- so what?

Even the Thunder's place in the standings no longer matters as much as it did last Monday.

Now, it's all about the playoffs.

From this point on, everything that happens with the Thunder will be measured by how it might translate to the postseason. It's a slightly more comfortable spot to be in and one that every contender reaches.

The Thunder, in all likelihood, will maintain a one-game-at-a-time outlook. Players and coaches will say every game is important. But the truth is this roster is as playoff-ready as it has ever been, and fans and analysts' attitudes are sure to reflect that thinking.

That's not to say the regular season doesn't matter. The 82-game portion of the campaign still will be filled with thrills and teaching moments. Those are both interesting and important.

But there is no better example of how our viewpoints have changed than the collective response to the news that Perkins will miss two to three weeks. His left knee injury will keep him on the shelf until roughly mid-March. Without him, the Thunder is undermanned. OKC could hit a rough patch and fall back to the rest of the pack fighting for seeds 5 through 8 in the Western Conference.

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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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