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.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!