Thunder journal: OKC’s playoff seeding still undetermined
The Thunder never needed a win more than now.
A split of the Thunder’s final two games against Houston and Milwaukee doesn’t guarantee OKC avoids facing Golden State in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, but it sure would help.
The Thunder is riding a three-game winning streak into its final home game of the season against Houston. The result matters for both.
The Thunder is trying to guarantee it doesn’t draw the Warriors in a 1-8 matchup, and the Rockets are attempting to leapfrog Denver to get to No. 2 in the conference.
The Rockets are a half-game behind Denver in the standings. The Nos. 2 or 3 seed in the West is inconsequential to avoiding Golden State, as the Warriors have locked up No. 1 in the West and would face either the Nos. 4 or 5 team in conference in the second round.
What matters to Houston is homecourt advantage in a potential second-round series against Denver.
A win would ensure the Rockets either the Nos. 2 or 3 seed. A loss and a Portland win against the Lakers on Tuesday would bump the Rockets to No. 4 since Portland had a tiebreaker over Houston.
As for the Thunder, a half-game ahead of the L.A. Clippers and San Antonio for the No. 6, the scenarios are far more complicated:
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• A Thunder loss to Houston and a win against Milwaukee (which has already locked up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference) means OKC would need the Spurs to lose its final game against Dallas on Wednesday to get the No. 7 seed. If the Spurs win, the Thunder lands at eighth.
• If the Thunder beats the Rockets but loses to the Bucks, the Thunder can still remain in sixth with a Spurs loss, regardless of what happens in the Clippers’ final game against the Jazz on Tuesday.
• If the Thunder goes 2-0, it locks up the No. 6.
• The Thunder could back into the No. 7 slot with two losses and a Clippers loss.
• If the Thunder, Spurs and Clippers all lose to end the season, the Thunder is the No. 8.
Based on recent form and Milwaukee not having any investment in Wednesday’s game, the odds favor the Thunder losing to Houston and beating the Bucks. But what has been assured for either the Thunder or the rest of the NBA in the last week?
The Thunder had no shot at the No. 6 seed before the Clippers lost to the Lakers on Friday. The Jazz looked set for the No. 4 before falling to the Lakers on Sunday.
Good luck trying to predict what will happen in the final two days of the NBA season.
Utah’s Kyle Korver posted an article on The Players Tribune on Monday, which garnered universal acclaim across social media.
The title of the piece, "Privilege," represents the white privilege Korver didn’t realize he was living with in his life and NBA career.
Korver was in the building the night in which Russell Westbrook had an encounter with a fan at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Laker City. That encounter in which the fan told Westbrook to "get on your knees like you’re used to" led to the fan being banned from the arena for life.
Korver was also a teammate of Thabo Sefolosha in Atlanta. In 2015, Sefolosha was arrested in New York for allegedly interfering with a crime scene, but in the process suffered season-ending injuries by police. Sefolosha was found not guilty of all three misdemeanor charges.
Korver’s initial reaction was to blame Sefolosha. Korver said he was embarrassed by that reaction and felt like he let Sefolosha down.
"I don’t think I have all the answers yet — but here are the ones that are starting to ring the most true: I have to continue to educate myself on the history of racism in America. I have to listen. I’ll say it again, because it’s that important. I have to listen," Korver wrote.
"But maybe more than anything? I know that, as a white man, I have to hold my fellow white men accountable. We all have to hold each other accountable. And we all have to be accountable — period. Not just for our own actions, but also for the ways that our inaction can create a 'safe' space for toxic behavior."