Mar 15, 2014, 5:00 PM EST
The Thunder currently hold a record of 48-17, a game back of the Spurs for the best overall mark in the league.
Finishing the year on top of that race would guarantee home court advantage throughout the playoffs and into the Finals should OKC make it that far, and it’s a goal most teams would kill to have a shot of reaching at this late stage of the season.
But keeping the big picture in mind, the Thunder aren’t planning on going all out to get there.
With a high volume of back-to-back sets the rest of the way, the team is more concerned with preserving its stars for a postseason run, which means willingly taking Russell Westbrook out of the lineup for a handful of games the rest of the way.
From Randy Renner of NBA.com:
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s closing schedule is heavy with back-to-back sets, six of them over the last month of the season, and Thunder head coach Scott Brooks on Saturday said once again that point guard Russell Westbrook will not play in both games of “some” of those sets.
“We have a plan in place” as to which games Westbrook will sit , said Brooks, but he wouldn’t reveal it Saturday after practice.”I’ll let you know at the appropriate time,” he added. …
“We had a plan in place early on when we brought him back and we wanna stick with that,” Brooks said. “We just wanna, while we can, get some time where he can rest in between games.”
There’s been no word of Westbrook experiencing any swelling or discomfort in his surgically-repaired knee, so this appears to be an overly-cautious maneuver by Brooks and the team’s medical staff.
The Thunder play back-to-backs sets over their next four games, the first of which comes at home against Dallas on Sunday and then on the road in Chicago the very next night. The killer set comes on April 3 and 4, at home against the Spurs followed by a road trip in Houston.
We’ll see what the standings look like when each of these games approaches to see if things change, but it appears as though Brooks has already made up his mind.
Dec 29, 2014, 10:37 AM EST
Kobe amazed by fan who drove nearly an hour to fight on Christmas to fight someone who doubted Kobe’s greatness
Dec 29, 2014, 10:00 AM EST
Cavaliers guard exasperatedly gives up
Dec 29, 2014, 9:30 AM EST
Center traded by Bucks, waived by Clippers, signed in China since last season
Dec 29, 2014, 8:30 AM EST
He’s back. And the league is more interesting to watch with him in it.
Dec 29, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
Hickson tries to make the right play, but it doesn’t exactly go his way.
Dec 29, 2014, 1:14 AM EST
Dallas, San Antonio pickup quality wins.
Dec 29, 2014, 12:18 AM EST
The Knicks next play Wednesday against the Clippers.
Dec 28, 2014, 10:30 PM EST
Flip Saunders said this a few weeks ago, too, but Rubio isn’t ready to stick to a timeline just yet.
LeBron, after Cavaliers lose by 23 at home to Pistons: ‘Right now we are not very good. In every aspect of the game’
Dec 28, 2014, 9:00 PM EST
An ugly home loss to a dismal Detroit team has LeBron telling it like it is.
Dec 28, 2014, 7:30 PM EST
It had been brewing for a while, but it still caught most of us by surprise.
Dec 28, 2014, 6:00 PM EST
Nice move by the Lakers, who pick up a promising big man prospect with an inexpensive non-guaranteed contract.
Dec 28, 2014, 4:29 PM EST
Knee injury suffered on Christmas Day will continue to keep Irving sidelined.
Dec 28, 2014, 3:30 PM EST
Bryant has uncharacteristically sat out the previous three games simply to rest.
Dec 28, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
West shoved Garnett at the time, but was in a joking mood afterward.
Dec 28, 2014, 12:30 PM EST
Cousins had it all working in this one.
Dec 28, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
It was a risky move by head coach David Blatt.
Dec 28, 2014, 9:30 AM EST
Western Conference ends season with huge advantage, begins another right where it left off
Dec 28, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
He was an offensive force Saturday. Who knew?
Dec 28, 2014, 12:28 AM EST
The Magic still won the game.
Dec 27, 2014, 10:25 PM EST
Just like Lance… and you really shouldn’t imitate Lance.
- PBT’s Top 10 NBA stories of 2014, No. 8: Kobe Bryant returns 2
- PBT’s Sunday Night NBA Winners/Losers: Cavaliers shouldn’t hit panic button, may want to locate it 3
- Carmelo Anthony sits out second half vs. Portland with sore knee 5
- LeBron, after Cavaliers lose by 23 at home to Pistons: ‘Right now we are not very good. In every aspect of the game’ 43
- Paul Pierce ‘shocked’ by Celtics trade of Rajon Rondo to Mavericks 16
- Kobe Bryant will return to Lakers lineup Sunday vs. Suns 16
- Kevin Love benched entire fourth quarter of Cavaliers win over Magic 30
- PBT’s Top 10 NBA stories of 2014, No. 10: Anthony Davis’ breakout 22