Evaluating Potential OKC Thunder Playoff Matchups

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The Oklahoma City Thunder lost their 19th game of the season to the LeBron James-led Lakers on Monday. NBA fans are thrilled after the loss despite 42 wins, more than three other clubs.  

Given that the Lakers are now ranked ninth in the Western Conference, many people considered the humiliating loss to be a potential series for the Lakers in the postseason.  

The No. 4 Clippers and No. 5 Pelicans are 3.5 games apart. As the last team to qualify for the Play-In Game, the No. 10 Warriors are 5.0 games ahead of the Jazz.  

Mathematically, there are enough games to make up the difference, but any parties below those lines will struggle. Oklahoma City will likely face the Lakers, Warriors, Mavericks, Kings, or Suns in the first round.  

With a 3-1 record, Los Angeles has OKC's number more than most.Regular season matches indicate the Lakers will be a tough challenge for Oklahoma City on multiple fronts.   

They have size with nine-time All-Star Anthony Davis in the paint and Jaxson Hayes, Christian Wood, and others. OKC's double-heavy approach hasn't worked this season against James and Davis, who are tall defensively. 

The Kings are the only other team in that category to beat OKC several times, with a recent lopsided record over the Thunder. They're inconsistent this season, but De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis can challenge OKC.  

Warriors intrigue on many levels. The Thunder have prevailed 3-1 this season and appear to be larger. Despite Draymond Green's absence from some of those matchups, the squad appears to be hot at the perfect time.

Steph Curry feels like a Playoff time bomb, regardless of regular season record.OKC has won both games against Phoenix. The Suns feel safer than others despite the prospect of nightmare Kevin Durant-Devin Booker-Bradley Beal coverage.   

Same for Dallas. Despite a 146-111 setback in early February, the Mavericks lack the firepower to capitalize when the Thunder double (or treble) MVP contender Luka Doncic.  

In addition, their paint protectors are Dereck Lively II, a rookie, and Daniel Gafford, who is still adjusting after a trade from Washington.OKC has two more games against Dallas in the final stretch that should reveal more.  

Pelicans are similar. Oklahoma City matches up well overall, although New Orleans has outlasted Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and co. earlier in the season.   

At nine o'clock on Wednesday, March 6, the Thunder will play Portland in an effort to get back into the win column before the end of the season.  

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