What Oklahoma City Thunder Must Do Between Now and Start of the NBA Playoffs

Ricky FrechCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2013

Feb 27, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) congratulates Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) in action against the New Orleans Hornets during the second half at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

With the All-Star break and trade deadline firmly in our rear-view window, NBA teams and fans have their attention solely affixed on the 2013 playoffs.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are currently sitting pretty with the second best record in the West, but they still have a few key things they need to do over their last 24 games to prepare themselves for the playoffs.

Obviously, these aren't going to be huge changes to their current mode of operation, considering how well they've been playing.

However, doing these little things better could very well be the thing that puts them over the top and leads to an NBA championship.


Work on Closing Out Close Games

This interesting note comes to us from Royce Young on dailythunder.com, who points out that the Thunder are just 3-7 over their last 10 games decided by six points or fewer.

Obviously, OKC has the most overwhelming offense in the league, as it leads the NBA in points per game and points differential.

However, it has to be a little concerning that the Thunder have failed to pull away with a win in close games, something they'll have to do over the course of a playoff series.

It's hard to say how to fix this, because the only way to work on it is to be in this situation more often, which is hard when you're blowing out teams every other night.

That said, it's something they need to work on as we move closer to the playoffs. 

There's just no way that anyone is going to blow out teams like the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers four times in a series.

Cut Down on Turnovers

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both currently average over three turnovers a game, while the Thunder as a team is the second worst in the league in giving up the basketball.

That kind of sloppy play just isn't going to cut it against the elite teams of the NBA.

Ball security is always paramount, and it's something OKC must work on over the next month and a half.

Luckily, Oklahoma City forces almost as many turnovers as they give up, but this is a still a problem that should and will be addressed over and over again until it's fixed.

Give the Younger Guys More Playing Time

Over the course of the playoffs, a team's depth can become more magnified as guys get banged up from the more physical playoff atmosphere.

This is especially true in the frontcourt, a place where the Thunder have some proven guys in Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, and then a lot of young guys.

Now is the time to get those young guys some more experience before they're thrust into the playoffs.

Guys like Hasheem Thabeet, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones could become key players in OKC's rotation if given a few more minutes per game to grow into their roles.

This move helps two-fold, as it also allows time for the starters to get in some much needed rest before the second season begins.

All-in-all, the Thunder are in a good place right now, but if they can work on closing out games, fix their turnover issues and get the young guys some more experience, they'll be much better off on their way to the championship.