NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder hot on Suns’ playoff heels at halfway

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Now that the NBA season has officially moved beyond the halfway point, the teams that currently occupy the league’s 16 playoff positions can start to feel quite confident that they will be playing postseason basketball come April.

There is still plenty of time left for the standings to change of course, but if last season is anything to go by, the ladder won’t shift much.

In the 2013/14 season, 15 of the 16 sides to sit in the playoff picture secured their place in the postseason by the end of the campaign, with the Phoenix Suns being the unlucky lot to miss out.

Fast forward a year and the Suns find themselves in an identical situation at the league’s midway point, but there is a very good reason that Ladbrokes make them an odds-against chance to end the season as one of the eight best teams in the Western Conference.

Not only have they got history for letting a playoff place slip, but one of the sides chasing them is a contender for the NBA Championship, let alone a measly postseason berth.

Just like they were last season, Phoenix were six games above .500 at the halfway stage and, just like the Memphis Grizzlies who overtook them back then, the Oklahoma City Thunder trailed them with a 20-20 record.

Kevin Durant and co have already improved on that thanks to a win over the Miami Heat and Ladbrokes seem to fully expect them to overhaul the Suns in the race for the playoffs, handing them odds of 1/3 to do so against the Suns’ 6/4 chances.

However, the Thunder will also have to battle both the Suns and the 11/4-rated New Orleans Pelicans (who shared OKC’s 20-20 halftime record) to make it to the postseason so they can challenge for a first NBA title.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.