The Oklahoma City Thunder are in a tight race with the San Antonio Spurs for the top seed in the west. The Thunder currently trail the Spurs by half a game, but the Thunder own the tiebreaker if they are to finish with same record.
There are several different scenarios that the Thunder could have going into the playoffs, and the most concerning is the Thunder capturing the No. 1 seed and having to face a dangerous Los Angeles Lakers team. The Lakers have not played to their capability on a consistent basis this season, but they are one of those teams that could make some noise in the playoffs despite coming in as a No. 8 seed.
The Lakers are always a dangerous team due to their veteran experience with players like Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash. The Lakers have been battling injuries all season long and have not been able to get on a roll since the start of the year. Some expert analysts predicted them making it to the NBA Finals at the beginning of the season after they acquired Nash and Howard.
So is it in the Thunder’s best interest to get the top seed in the west and face the possibility of playing the Lakers in the first round? If they get the No. 2 seed, they will more than likely have the Houston Rockets in the first round, and they are not a team to overlook with James Harden and Jeremy Lin. The Thunder seem to be in a ‘pick your poison’ type of situation.
I believe the Thunder will have to look down the road when contemplating where they want to finish in the west. A No. 1 seed would give them home court advantage if they were to make it to the Western Conference Finals. Home court advantage is important to have, especially if a series goes to game seven, which home teams have won about 80 percent of the time.
The road to the Finals will be difficult for the Thunder either way. The west has been a lot tighter than most predicted it would be at the start of the year, but if the Thunder are truly the best team in the west, it should not matter what draw they get in the playoffs.