There's not much to dislike about their 18-4 record. Since Westbrook came back from his torn meniscus surgery in the third game of the season, the Thunder's only losses were at Portland (on the second night of a back-to-back), at the Los Angeles Clippers (after Serge Ibaka was ejected for fighting in the first half) and at Golden State (on a last-second shot). Those are some quality losses. And there's nary a blemish on their home record, which is 11-0 after they beat the Lakers. This could turn into a Seattle Seahawks situation, where no one wants to go there in the playoffs. (Sorry to bring up Seattle, SuperSonics fans.)
But you won't hear the Thunder target the No. 1 overall seed as bluntly as the Indiana Pacers have.
Brooks' goals for the team are less tangible: "Continue to build trust in each other, and focus on each other and not worry about anything else but trying to make your teammates look good."
Durant said, "We just want to play our best brand of basketball at the right time. Whether we get the 1-seed or however that falls, we just want to play our best basketball coming down the stretch."
The Thunder have already shown they can win a playoff series without home-court advantage, which they did against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2012 Western Conference finals.
Past playoff results matter even more than present regular-season results. So bank on that 2012 playoff run. The one thing we don't know is whether Westbrook and Durant will be able to thrive in the playoffs without that third star in Harden. But with Westbrook's injury last spring we also were denied a chance to see if the star duo and their continued growth (such as Durant's passing and Westbrook's defense) would be enough on their own.
What the 2012-13 campaign is providing testimony to is the Thunder's deliberate approach to team-building, and the continuity that has developed in Oklahoma City.
"It's kind of crazy how all the franchises change across the league and different guys they've got in trades," Westbrook said. "With one trade, teams can go from this to that. It's kind of crazy. I think around here we've done a good job of developing guys, taking it year by year, game by game and trying to compete every year."
They're not just competing every year, they're improving every year. That's not a statement, just a fact. In each of their previous five seasons in Oklahoma City the Thunder have managed to improve on the winning percentage of the year before.
And they're at it again.