Thunder needs to make strong statement heading into All-Star break

BY foxsports • February 3, 2015

The Thunder have five games to go until the All-Star break. They are 24-24 on the season and sit three games behind Phoenix for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Here's a look at Oklahoma City's chances in this stretch of games that could go a long way in determining whether the Thunder make the playoffs.

Wednesday at New Orleans

Chance of winning: 55 percent

The Thunder are coming off a feel-good kind of win against Orlando at home on Monday night where Russell Westbrook had a triple-double. The Thunder also got a boost when Memphis beat Phoenix on a last-second shot, allowing the Thunder to pull within three games of the Suns for the eighth playoff spot.

It seems like a good spot for OKC, considering the Pelicans are coming off of a big win against Atlanta, snapping the Hawks 19-game winning streak on Monday. 

If Kevin Durant plays, bump the chance of winning in New Orleans up to 70 percent. Durant has missed three of the past four games with a toe sprain and he didn't practice Tuesday. He's considered doubtful for Wednesday's game.

Friday vs. New Orleans

Chance of winning: 80 percent

The Thunder are 10th in the Western Conference behind the Pelicans and the Suns, so you have to figure OKC will play with extra urgency when facing the Pelicans, especially at home.

The Western Conference is so tough, OKC won't want to let another home game get away from them.

Sunday vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Chance of winning: 65 percent

Another marquee team comes in for a nationally televised game. The good news for the Thunder is that the Clippers will be on the back end of a tough road trip having already lost at Brooklyn, played at Cleveland and then at Toronto on Friday night. There's a good possibility of the Clippers being worn down after playing against the Cavs and Raptors and then having to go to Dallas on Monday night.

Tough team for sure, but the timing couldn't be much better for the Thunder. If Durant is out for this one, drop the percentage down a notch.

Feb.  9 at Denver

Chance of winning: 60 percent

The Nuggets have lost nine of 10 games and will come home to face the Thunder after a three-game road trip out East. This could be a bad spot for OKC as they will have just played the Clippers and have to catch Denver on a back-to-back. Of course, the Nuggets are the only opponent in the next six that isn't ahead of OKC in the standings, so a look-ahead mentality could very well be the case for the Thunder as they will come back home against Memphis on Wednesday.

Feb. 11 vs. Memphis

Chance of winning: 70 percent

Expect a must-win attitude for the Thunder who have already lost twice to the Grizzlies this season, including once at home. However, it's the last game before the All-Star break, it's at home and the Thunder should be at full strength. Meanwhile, Memphis will be coming off a back-to-back, having played at home against Brooklyn the night before.

Oklahoma City will give everything it has to win this game. Expect maximum level of urgency and effort for the Thunder. 

Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK

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