The Oklahoma City Thunder have locked up the No. 1 seed in the
Western Conference. The Milwaukee Bucks are headed to the East
playoffs, but they couldn’t be in a much worse spot.
Oklahoma City will try to close the regular season with a fifth
consecutive victory Wednesday night, while the visiting Bucks try
to end their longest skid of 2012-13 before a brutal postseason
Needing a victory over Sacramento on Monday to claim the top
spot in the West, the Thunder (60-21) won 104-95 behind 50 combined
points from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
The franchise has reached the 60-win plateau for the first time
since the Seattle SuperSonics went 61-21 in 1997-98.
“We’ve never done it here before, so it’s new to us,” Durant
said after scoring 29 points. “But it feels good. It shows our
progression as a franchise each and every year.”
While it’s uncertain who the defending West champs will open the
playoffs against – either the Los Angeles Lakers or Utah – what is
all but certain is that Durant will not win a fourth consecutive
scoring title. He would need 70 points Wednesday – and that’s just
if Carmelo Anthony, the NBA leader with 28.7 ppg, sits out New
York’s season finale against Atlanta.
Durant, though, doesn’t need to do anything to become the sixth
player in league history to shoot 50 percent from the field, 40
percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the foul line,
joining Reggie Miller, Mark Price, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki and
Larry Bird. Durant has hit 51.0 percent of his field-goal attempts,
41.6 percent from beyond the arc and 90.5 percent from the
“To be able to score as many points as he has scored and shoot
that well is pretty impressive,” coach Scott Brooks said. “It
doesn’t happen that often.”
Neither does a Bucks playoff appearance. Milwaukee will be
making its second trip to the postseason in seven years, but it’s
drawn league-best Miami in the first round.
The Bucks aren’t exactly storming into the matchup with the
Heat, dropping five in a row and 15 of 20. Monta Ellis scored half
of his 38 points in the fourth quarter against Denver on Monday,
but Milwaukee lost 112-111.
“It’d be nice for us to taste a victory,” coach Jim Boylan
The Bucks nearly did with the Thunder in town March 30, but
Oklahoma City went on a 19-2 fourth-quarter run en route to a
Ellis and Brandon Jennings combined for 17 points and shot 6 of
30 in that game, negating a big effort from Ersan Ilysova, who had
29 points and 14 rebounds.
Larry Sanders, second in the league behind the Thunder’s Serge
Ibaka with 2.8 blocks per game, will likely miss a fourth straight
contest with a sore lower back.
Ibaka, who recorded a season-best eight blocks in Milwaukee last
month and is averaging 3.1, will lead the NBA for a second
The Bucks and Thunder last played in Oklahoma City to close out
2010-11, a Milwaukee 110-106 overtime victory April 13, 2011.