Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan watches during the first half of the team'sNBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, March 27, 2019, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Rob Ferguson)

Donovan and Thunder stumbling into 2019 NBA Playoffs

Early in the season, the Oklahoma City Thunder looked like it might be a real contender in the Western Conference. Now, with just four games remaining, it is just barely hanging onto its spot in the playoffs. OKC clinched its playoff berth over the weekend, but its first-round matchup isn’t looking too favorable.

What Happened

Billy Donovan’s team has struggled mightily since the all-star break. With an 8-13 record and the second-worst offense in the NBA since that point, the Thunder have completely self-destructed.

With as bad as things have been lately, OKC still has a chance to improve its chances over the next week.

Seeding in the conference is far from decided. Currently in eighth place, the Thunder boast the same record as the seventh place Spurs at 45-33. Just ahead, the Clippers are 47-31 behind the 47-30 Jazz. The battle from fifth to eighth is close, and moving up a few spots to avoid a matchup with the Golden State Warriors could pay huge dividends.

Despite the seeding at stake, OKC doesn’t seem overly concerned about who it will face first.

The Road Ahead

Whether the Thunder admit how big the next four games are or not, it will still have a huge impact on the playoff picture.

OKC is coming off a big win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night and will take on the Detroit Pistons at home on Friday. After that, it will try to get wins at Minnesota and against Houston before traveling to play the NBA’s best team Milwaukee to close out the regular season.

The talent is there to finish strong, with star player Paul George leading the team at 28 points per game and Russell Westbrook on pace to average a triple-double for the season at 23 points, 11.1 rebounds and 10.5 assists. Westbrook had a monster game against the Lakers with 20 points, 20 boards and 21 assists.

George thinks his team has the chemistry it takes to make a run.

“We just do a good job of just being positive. We have fun working together. We have fun coming into this building. That’s all the greatest foundation for us right now. You know, staying through it, staying with it. When practice gets over, we always have guys staying after getting shots, getting work. This group, regardless of what we’ve been dropping games or regardless of that, this group is as tight as it can get.”

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