Even on television, the atmosphere at Chesapeake Energy Arena just seems more intense than anywhere else in the NBA. As a one-sports-team city, Oklahoma City is fully behind their Thunder, and that creates a chaotic college-like environment that rattles the Thunder's opponents.
On their home court, the Thunder have a stellar 30-5 record, with their only defeats coming to five playoff-bound teams: the Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets.
Kevin Durant has emerged as a dominant all-around player, and with James Harden in Houston, Russell Westbrook has better-reconciled his scoring mindset with his point guard abilities.
During his fourth year in the league, Serge Ibaka is thriving in a more featured role, averaging career highs in points and rebounds per game as well as field goal percentage and three-point shooting percentage.
Though they lack a third playmaker on the offensive end, the Thunder's ability to penetrate and create high percentage looks has made them the NBA's highest scoring team at 106.4 points per game. They have the ability of ripping off scoring runs at any given point thanks to the explosiveness of Durant and Westbrook.
Beyond just their offense, though, the Thunder protect the rim and force opponents to beat them from the perimeter. Their 97.3 points given up per game seem mediocre, but that is more a product of the pace they play at then their defensive ability.
The Thunder are also playing with an edge in 2012-13 that they simply have not had before. Hardened by their crushing 2012 Finals loss, this team is playing with a mean streak, and that shows in their more aggressive mentality on both ends of the court.
Where last year's Thunder would settle for too many jumpers, this year's team attacks the basket and forces the issue, feeding off of the passion and emotion of their home crowd.