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With exactly two weeks until the end of the regular season, the Oklahoma City Thunder are still firmly in the postseason race. They’ve put together a 36-38 record to this point, good for the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference entering Sunday’s slate of games.
There’s eight contests remaining for Oklahoma City, four of which will occur between now and the end of the month. In each of these games to close out March, the Thunder should be favorites. Given they’re two games under .500, this is a real shot to have a winning record entering April.
- March 26: Portland Trail Blazers (32-41)
- March 28: Charlotte Hornets (24-51)
- March 29: Detroit Pistons (16-58)
- March 31: Indiana Pacers (33-42)
This four-game stint to end March features teams with a combined record of 105-192 (.353) on the season, each of which are on the outside looking in of the postseason picture. This string of games will feature a back-to-back in Oklahoma City with a road game on either end.
The Blazers will be the first test for the Thunder over this stretch, which is an interesting situation in itself. Portland has continued to fall in the standings of late and at this point is more than likely out of the play-in race. Furthermore, there’s been conversations internally about shutting down Damian Lillard for the remainder of the season with a calf injury, especially given the Blazers’ situation in the standings.
Indiana on the back end of this four-game stretch is another contest that could prove more difficult than it appears. While the Pacers haven’t been consistent this season, they’ve certainly got the talent to beat nearly any team in the league when healthy. This is a game the Thunder shouldn’t overlook, especially since the Pacers will be at home where they have a 19-17 record this season.
The middle pair of games at home should be very winnable, even if they’re crammed into two days. The Pistons and Hornets are the bottom two teams in the Eastern Conference and have already been eliminated from any postseason scenario. They’ve combined for a 19-56 record on the road this season and have their sights set on the lottery, so as long as Oklahoma City comes prepared these should both be wins.
Once this stretch of four games comes to an end, it will really be crunch time for the Thunder. They are set to play four games in April before the regular season ends, all of which are against teams currently in postseason picture or just outside of it with a chance to still get in. That’s going to be a tough stretch, which makes it even more important to take care of business in the last games of this month.
During these next four games, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be the best player on the floor at all times. With his ability to dictate the pace of play and take over games, it’s a huge opportunity for him to showcase his stardom. He’ll also need help from Josh Giddey and Jalen Williams, who have been the second and third options offensively in most matchups over the past several weeks.