Beating them won't be easy.
However, there are a few key things that a team could do that would significantly improve its chances of defeating this young Thunder squad. Whether or not one team could package all of those key ingredients together into one playoff series is another matter.
Here are five things opponents must do to stop this Thunder team's race to the title.
It may seem like a good thing to do against anyone, but playing great perimeter defense is paramount for any team that wants to have any hope of beating the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The three-headed monster of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden is made up entirely of perimeter players. Together, those three average nearly 70 points per game. Significantly hampering them would really hurt the Thunder, but it would also require great perimeter defense.
At times, the Thunder can get out of position on the boards due to bad defensive rotations or just simply needing to help. This can give great opportunities for offensive rebounds.
As a younger team, this problem is a discipline issue for the Thunder and one that it will likely struggle with at times in the postseason.
Any team that can nab those extra possessions will be much, much better off.
It sounds too simple, and it really isn’t. The Thunder has the potential to play some of the best defense in the NBA when they really get down to it.
However, they don’t always get down to it.
Spreading the floor and moving the ball can get easy buckets for opponents at times against this Thunder squad. It won’t work every time, but it will work more often than Thunder fans wish it did.
This might be the most key part of the equation. Clogging the middle of the floor is critical in stopping this Thunder team’s offensive attack.
Russell Westbrook is so athletic that he can use any little seam to get to the hoop and score.
Kevin Durant and James Harden are good at getting there as well.
By clogging the middle at all times, this Thunder team can be forced to rely on outside jumpers. While each of their best three players can hit those jumpers, each of them has a much tougher time getting into an offensive flow when they can’t get easier shots in the lane.
Sorry, but it is true.
When facing a team this young and talented, you have to hope you’ll get lucky.
A poor shooting night for a specific player, a few calls go your way or maybe you catch a role player having a bad night.
Opponents need a bit of luck and for this Thunder team to beat itself, which does happen, although not very often. Luck plays a role in all things, and beating the Oklahoma City Thunder would be no different.