The Oklahoma City Thunder nearly ran out of players this season because injures had ravaged the team.
But on Friday, Russell Westbrook returned from a hand injury and had 32 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists in a win over the Knicks.
And now, The Oklahoman is reporting that Kevin Durant could be a gametime decision for the Thunder’s Tuesday night game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
If Durant plays, the Thunder has their usual starting lineup, and their rotation would return to normal as they have gotten bench players back from injury, too. All of that would make for a very scary scenario in the Western Conference.
At 5-12, the Thunder are currently 12th in an extremely competitive Western Conference where they may need to win 45 more games to reach the playoffs. A 50-32 record would give the Thunder a winning percentage of .750. Over the last three seasons, the Thunder have an average winning percentage of .720, so they haven’t been far off.
A fully healthy, surging Thunder team is scary for the Western Conference. They may just slide into the playoffs as the 7th or 8th seed, but it could totally shift the balance of power. If the Thunder make the postseason as a lower seed, they will face a top team in the first round. Should the Thunder pull off an upset over a top seed, suddenly the championship window is open.
It will be a tight race for Oklahoma City, but as they get ready to welcome back Durant, they enter an easier portion of their schedule. Four of their next six games are against sub-.500 teams, and seven of their 16 games this month are against teams below .500, so the Thunder could take advantage of a light schedule.
The already brutal Western Conference could get even more insane with a healthy Thunder team with their eyes on the playoffs.
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