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Thunder: No. 1 seed in Western Conference is suddenly in doubt

San Antonio is the hottest team in the NBA, and the Spurs might pass Oklahoma City for a prime playoff seeding.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: April 5, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS — Four days ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder was making a push to lock up home-court advantage through the NBA Finals.

Today, the team is hanging on to the top seed in the Western Conference by a thread.

As the Thunder prepares to take on Indiana on Friday night inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, it must do so with rising pressure to win while San Antonio breathes down its neck.

The Spurs are now just a game behind the Thunder for the conference's best record. They're the hottest team in basketball, having won nine straight. They have the luxury of having two more games than the Thunder remaining on their schedule. And, most significantly, they already own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Thunder after winning the three-game regular season series 2-1.

Suddenly, a top seed that looked like a certainty for the Thunder a week ago has become very much in doubt. Now, more than ever, the Thunder's mantra of “one game at a time” will be put to the test, because every one from here out is of grave importance and the question has become how will the Thunder respond?

A lot is riding on a finishing strong.

“With them, because they're so young, a lot of it has to do with securing home-court advantage,” Cleveland coach Byron Scott said of the Thunder's championship hopes. “If they secure home-court advantage, they're going to be tough for any Western team to beat in a seven-game series.”

Two straight losses to Memphis on Monday night and Miami on Wednesday have opened the door for the Spurs to catch the Thunder. At any other time, a two-game losing streak is nothing to worry over. But given the juncture of the season and the Spurs' winning streak, the Thunder must absolutely get back on track against the Pacers.

Oklahoma City hasn't lost three consecutive games this season, which is a reason to believe the Thunder can indeed right its ship right away. The Thunder's only other two-game skid came back on Jan. 2 and 3. Since that second loss on Jan. 3 to Portland, OKC has gone 11-1 after suffering a defeat.

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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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