Why the OKC Thunder will be a Problem in the Playoffs

The Thunder shocked everyone this season and made the playoffs. With a team led by veteran Chris Paul, they've managed to show that they can compete at the highest level.

The Thunder are the best 4th quarter team in the league. In the playoffs, a game often comes down to which team can perform in the 4th and which team can perform in the clutch. The Thunder have the best +/- ratio (the number of points a team outscores their opponent on average) in the league in the 4th quarter, with a + 2.5.

Despite the fact, Dennis Schröder isn't in the starting lineup, as a Sixth Man of the year candidate he often plays in the 4th to give the Thunder an extra boost.

During the 4th the Thunder can shot the three-ball as well as mid-range. The Thunder may be the best mid-range team in the game with Shai Gilgeous Alexander, Dennis Schröder, and Chris Paul. Paul was the best mid-range shooter in the league this year shooting 52% from mid this season.

Having a good mid-range game is very important as it allows for an easy pull-up jumper off a screen.

Because of the consistency the Thunder have from mid-range it allows for a quick easy bucket in clutch time.

Additionally, 4 of the 5 players in the Thunders' 4th quarter lineup can shoot the three-ball: Chris Paul, Dennis Schröder, Shai Gilgeous Alexander, and Danillo Gallinari; All of whom shoots league average or above 35% from deep.

OKC can also do it on the defensive end. The Thunder are top 10 in opponents field goal percentage, defensive rebounds, and opponents three-point percentage.

You can't forget that Chris Paul is a 7x All-Defensive first team and one of the best defensive guards in the league.

In the end, it comes to who the Thunder will play in the first round. Regardless of how they do in the rest of the "regular season", they will most likely play the Nuggets or the Jazz. Both teams that are division rivals to OKC.

The Thunder split games with both teams going 1-1 with both. However, the Utah Jazz has had chemistry problems as of late with their two star players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and it could affect their play. Also, Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic has lost a considerable amount of weight and analysts are concerned that it may affect his play negatively as his weight was an asset to post-up players.

Even if both these issues the Jazz and Nuggets are having do not affect their play I still think the Thunder have a better well-rounded team, a more clutch team, and the best leader in the game with Chris Paul. I think the Thunder can definitely get past the first round. Although I don't think the Thunder can get past the second round of the playoffs, I think they will reak havoc and cause problems for a contending team.

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