Playoff Spot Is Clinched But It's Back To Work For Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder is back in the NBA Playoffs for the second consecutive season. Last year it was a surprise but this time around making the playoffs was something fans, along with coaches and players, expected.

So again, like last season, there was no big celebration in the locker room after Sunday night’s 99-90 playoff clinching win over Northwest Division rival Portland.

“This year we didn’t even mention it, I actually forgot about it,” admitted Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks. “But it’s a great accomplishment, every team wants to get to the playoffs but it’s time to keep moving on and keep pushing forward.”

That attitude is shared by all the players who talked with reporters after Monday’s practice.

“Naw, no celebrating because we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said backup point guard Eric Maynor. “Last year we were happy because we clinched a playoff spot but this year but this year we feel like we can do more than just clinch and make the playoffs and do more than just make it to the first round. So it was just like another game.”

“It’s nice for the fans, it’s nice to know in our minds it’s clinched but already know we’re a good team and when I got here I had it in my mind that we were gonna be in the playoffs,” said center Nazr Mohammed. Mohammed has been through the playoff battles and even won an NBA Championship in San Antonio so he knows there is still plenty to do.

“Yeah there’s a lot of work to be done, cuz you know regular season and playoffs are two different types of games. Winning a championship takes a lot of focus, a lot of sacrifice and it all comes down to matchups in the playoffs and each series could be different. One series the matchups may not work in your favor so you may be a guy that doesn’t play that much in that series but in the next one you may be a guy they depend on heavily so you have to stay focused.”

Rookie center Cole Aldrich will enjoy a run in the NBA Playoffs for the first time.

“Bein a young guy my first year in the league I’m just fortunate to be on a team that’s in the playoffs,” he said. “We’re just gonna keep working hard and trying to get better. We’re all excited but we’ve really got our game face back on. We put our work boots on this morning a we wanna make sure that we end the season on the right note.”

“It’s important just to keep playing well,” said Brooks who has a Championship ring of his own from his playing days with the Houston Rockets, “We wanna keep improving and we wanna play good basketball and we have some big games coming up that we have to play well to win.”

The playoffs are clinched but a Northwest Division title is still up for grabs.

“Winning the division would be another great accomplishment but again it’s not something we talk about, not something that I put on the board, it’s always just focusing on improving as a team and helping your teammates get better.”

It’s a formula that has produced great results so far.

The Thunder’s longest homestand of the season comes to a close Tuesday night when the Golden State Warriors come to town. Tip-off inside Oklahoma City Arena is set for 7 PM.