The Clippers roll into town on Wednesday fresh off of last week's miraculous comeback win in Los Angeles.
The Thunder, once up 22, lost their poise and then the game after looking dominant for the first three quarters. It was Oklahoma City's fifth loss in seven games, which would have been bad enough, but was made worse with a 15-point loss to Golden State just one night later.
You could say that OKC bounced back with a win over the Bucks on Sunday, but really, who cares? The Bucks stink and all the Thunder did by winning that game was avoid rock bottom.
If the Thunder wants to regain some national respect, they need to beat good teams like the Clippers, especially at home.
Wednesday provides an opportunity to get back on the horse. Los Angeles is still playing without Blake Griffin and the Thunder has had a lengthy rest since Sunday's matinee in Milwaukee.
This is the first of two home meetings with the Clippers this month and both promise to be important regarding playoff seeding. OKC (43-20) enters Wednesday one game ahead of the Clips (41-21) in the loss column for the No. 3 seed out west. However, it's fair to question whether OKC would rather have the third spot than the fourth. No. 3 could very well earn the Thunder a date with the surging Blazers, a team with which OKC has struggled. On the other hand, the No. 4 spot likely means a date with the Grizzlies. That sounds daunting most seasons, but with Marc Gasol now out for the year, Memphis wouldn't figure to have much of a shot against the high-powered Thunder.
You could argue that the No. 3 spot is preferable because it theoretically avoids Golden State until the Western Conference Finals, which is valid. The Thunder is 0-3 against the NBA's Bay-Area darlings but has played 'em to the wire twice. Matching up with the Warriors in the second round would at least get it out of the way, right? Win or lose, rip the band-aid off.
Back to Wednesday. Oklahoma City should have plenty of motivation to make sure it plays 48 minutes of focused basketball. It won't make up for last week's debacle, but it might help get the car back on the road.