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Inside The Thunder

Thunder Enter Crucial Set of Games in Early February

By Randall Sweet,


Sitting in 13th place in the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City has some work to do in order to find its way into the postseason.

At 24-27, the Oklahoma City Thunder have already matched last season's win total. This has come largely behind the play of star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who became OKC's first All-Star since Chris Paul earlier this week.

While many fans would tell you that the Thunder have already exceeded expectations this year, the team seems to have its sights set higher, aimed at a berth in the postseason. To get there, however, Oklahoma City will need to take care of business in some key matchups down the stretch.

Starting on Feb. 7, OKC will begin a three game stretch in which they matchup with all three of the teams immediately of them in line for a spot in the postseason. The first of these three contest comes in Los Angeles, where the Thunder will meet the Lakers for the first time this season.

This intriguing showdown between Oklahoma City's youth and veteran-heavy Los Angeles has been billed as a likely scene for LeBron James surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leading scorer in NBA history. Additionally, at 25-28, the Lakers are only one slot higher than the Thunder on the Western Conference leaderboard.

OKC will remain on the West Coast after it battles with Los Angeles, traveling to Portland to meet the Trail Blazers on Friday, Feb. 10. Led by fellow all-star Damian Lillard, the Blazers are currently in 11th place in the West, only one game out of Oklahoma City's reach.

The Thunder are 2-0 against Portland this season, taking down Lillard's squad in back-to-back games at the Paycom Center. The first of these two matchups ended with a Gilgeous-Alexander turn-around jumper at the buzzer to give OKC a 123-121 victory.

Two days later, both teams went down to the wire again, with Oklahoma City narrowly winning by three points.

To round-out this important stretch of games, the Thunder will take on the New Orleans Pelicans at home on Monday, Feb. 13. The Thunder were defeated 128-125 when the two squads met in December.

At 26-27, the Pelicans are in currently in sole possession of the final postseason spot, just two games ahead of Oklahoma City.

If the Thunder can find a way to gain some ground on the teams ahead of them in the standings over this three game stint, it will go a long way for OKC's playoff chances this season.

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