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Status quo better than poke in eye for Thunder

Originally Published: Mar 30, 2011 4:9 PM CDT

The status quo is used mostly in a negative form. That's not the case right now for the OKC Thunder. The status quo is what the Thunder needs when it relates to the upcoming NBA Playoffs. The only thing better than status quo for the Thunder would be if the playoffs started tomorrow.

Why is the status quo such a good thing?Because unless you have a healthy team that is head and shoulders better than anyone else, the current standings in the Western Conference are as good as OKC could realistically expect.

The best scenario for OKC is to play San Antonio in the second round. Obviously, the Thunder would have to win the first roundpresumably against Denver, and presumably with OKC holding the home court advantageto get to the second round scenarios.

The top five Western Conference teams in order are the Spurs, Lakers, Mavs, Thunder, and Nuggets. San Antonio is struggling mightily but is still holding on to a 3 game lead over LA and only 3 back in the all-important loss column. And, while the Lakers are sizzling having won seven straight, San Antonio has lost four straight and have a tough stretch ahead as they head for home on gimpy legs.

Some think it best for the Thunder to play the Lakers in Round 2 and not the team with the best record in the league. But those people don't remember a few little things like Kobe, two consecutive titles, trying to beat LA in LA, etc. And there is much more in the etcetera column.

OKC matches up better with the Spurs. They have won in San Antonio and would be more confident near the Alamo than near Beverly Hills. The Spurs are injuredplaying four short at times. The Spurs are going in reverse. Much less momentum than the Lakers. And with all due respect to future Hall-of-Fame coach Greg Popovich, Phil Jackson has had more playoff success than any coach in NBA history.

The Thunder have a difficult schedule from here to the wire, but it's becoming almost mathematically impossible for Denver to catch them and snatch away home court advantage (the teams have one game remaining in OKC and one in Denver).Dallas is not a big concern for the Thunder. The Mavs lead OKC by three in the loss column and trail LA by 3 games, but only one in the loss column.

Bottom line: Hold off Denver and get healthy Root for the Spurs to hold off the Lakers.

If the standings don't change, the Thunder have a legitimate shot of meeting the Lakers (or Mavs) with the winner advancing to the NBA Finals. One respected NBA/math/odds gent gave OKC a 35 percent of defeating the Spurs in the second round. And that was before some of the injuries struck.

Thirty-five percent is better than a poke in the eye. If you'd told me all this five years ago there'd have been a better than 35 percent chance I'd have fainted.

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