Are the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kevin Durant, Ready for the NBA Postseason?

Curtis FinchumCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2010

ATLANTA - JANUARY 18:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on January 18, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There's only a few weeks left in the NBA regular season, and the young, electric Oklahoma City Thunder are hanging tough in the playoff hunt. 

Thus far, they sit in sixth place in the loaded Western Conference and—should they hold their place—will face either the Denver Nuggets or Dallas Mavericks in the first round. 

The Thunder, however, must give praise and thanks to two key players who have experienced accelerated maturation. 

Superstar Kevin Durant has had a fantastic season, averaging close to 30 points a game, and he's improved every aspect of his game—most importantly, defense. 

However, Durant isn't the only one who's had a dramatic improvement. Point guard Russell Westbrook began the season completely erratic: incapable of solid consistency. 

However, during the last few months of the season, Westbrook has been on a tear—easily playing the best ball of his young career. 

Westbrook, Durant, and solid role players Jeff Green, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka have played fantastically since the All-Star break. 

Durant, Green, and Westbrook—easily the leaders of this team—have to continue their growth so the Thunder can have a fighting chance at making it to the second round. 

The regular season has allowed this young team to grow together and improve every aspect of their game, but the playoffs bring a whole different monster. 

The playoffs bring a clutch demeanor that you do not experience in the regular season. This is an aspect of the game even Durant hasn't mastered or experienced yet. 

Durant has been the man with the ball in his hands in late-game situations, and he has come through at times, quietly improving his clutch shooting. 

But the atmosphere in the playoffs can make even a budding superstar crumble in clutch moments. 

This is something Durant and his teammates must attempt to prepare for without any true experience. 

As April 18 approaches, the Thunder are in a fight to hold onto their playoff spot, and they don't look like they are going to let it go anytime soon. 

Whether or not they truly are ready is yet to be seen. They certainly have the fire power and the athleticism to compete in the playoffs, but their lack of collective experience will hurt. 

So in all reality, no, the Thunder aren't ready, but Durant and company don't seem to care—they're on their way to the playoffs anyway.

Get ready, Oklahoma City, for a basketball atmosphere you haven't experienced in years.