5 Ways the Oklahoma City Thunder Can Guarantee a First-Round Win

5 Ways the Oklahoma City Thunder Can Guarantee a First-Round Win

Oklahoma City Thunder
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Kevin Durant has made it very clear that he is tired of being second and his MVP type season has set him apart this year. The NBA Finals MVP might be the crowning achievement in shedding that “second” moniker, but first he must lead the Oklahoma City Thunder out of the first-round. If Durant and his teammates can make these five items their top priority, there is no stopping them.

5. Veteran Leadership

Derek Fisher
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5. Veteran Leadership

Derek Fisher
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma City's head coach Scott Brooks brought Derek Fisher to his team for a reason. Fisher is a veteran point guard with championship experience, and he must continue to a mentor to his youthful peers.

4. Control The Pace

Thabo Sefolosha
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

4. Control The Pace

Thabo Sefolosha
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder are at their best when they are playing at top speed. If they can continue to use their athleticism on defense to create their fast break offense, they will be very difficult to beat.

3. Serge Ibaka Must Versatile Defender

Serge Ibaka
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

3. Serge Ibaka Must Versatile Defender

Serge Ibaka
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Much of the Oklahoma City's success will depend on how effective Serge Ibaka can be on defense. He has the mobility to guard outside the paint and to protect the rim. As long as he can do both, Oklahoma City will have an opportunity for more than just a first-round win.

2. Russell Westbrook Must Pick His Spots

Russell Westbrook
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2. Russell Westbrook Must Pick His Spots

Russell Westbrook
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

For as long as he has been in the NBA, Russell Westbrook has been scrutinized about his decision making in crunch time. And it will continue until he understands when to shoot and when to pass. If he can improve on this just a little bit, the Thunder will be better from it.

1. Kevin Durant Must Be Aggressive

Kevin Durant
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

1. Kevin Durant Must Be Aggressive

Kevin Durant
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant has played MVP caliber basketball all season, and that is the reason why Oklahoma City is in the position they are in right now. And the only way a first-round victory can be guaranteed is if Durant relentless on the offensive end. He cannot shy away from big moments and allow Russell Westbrook to dominate the rock. Success begins and ends with Kevin Durant.

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