Friday, June 21 2024

The 2023-24 Oklahoma City Thunder became the youngest No. 1 seed in NBA history on Sunday, following their 135-86 blowout win over the Milwaukee Bucks, with an average age of 23.4 years.

The previous record was set by the Phoenix Suns (25.2 years) in the 2004-05 season. Oklahoma City finished with the same 57-25 record as the Denver Nuggets, but it owns the official tiebreaker.

The Thunder hadn’t finished as the top seed since the 2012-13 season and hadn’t been to the playoffs since the 2019-20 season. Oklahoma City went from winning 24 games two seasons ago to now having the best record in the Western Conference this season.

According to a few NBA betting sites, the Thunder hold fifth-shortest odds to win the championship. Sportsbooks are showing better odds for the Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers.

“We all know what got us to this point,” Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said. “Just doubling down on that and keeping our heads down and trusting the work. We got this far for a reason. Just don’t veer off of it.”

Of course, Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said he’s proud of a team that began the season as the third-youngest team in the league — trailing only the Portland Trail Blazers (23.9 years) and San Antonio Spurs (24 years).

“Nothing’s guaranteed in any year, so, to be a postseason team, to be a one seed — we don’t take that for granted at all,” Daigneault said. “We’re incredibly excited. And now it’s just a matter of letting it rip with that opportunity.”

Oklahoma City Thunder are the third-youngest team this season, coach Daigneault believes age is less important

Daigneault implied that age is irrelevant going into the postseason.

“We’re zero and zero when we wake up tomorrow morning for the playoffs,” Daigneault said. “So, what we’ve accomplished to this point doesn’t impact that. But I do think we’ve built great habits. We’ve done it together. Again, I have a lot of confidence, but not because of our age … but because of how the guys have performed and the things they’ve built together.”

The Thunder entered Sunday in a three-way tie with the Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves for the best record in the Western Conference. It was the first time in NBA history that three teams entered the final day of the regular season tied for the No. 1 spot.

Furthermore, Oklahoma City will have to wait until Friday to find out which team it will play in its first-round playoff series, after the NBA Play-In Tournament.

The Golden State Warriors (46-36) and Sacramento Kings (46-36) will play an elimination game in the No. 9 vs. No. 10 play-in game with the winner advancing to play the loser of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 play-in game between the New Orleans Pelicans (49-33) and Los Angeles Lakers (47-35). The winner of that game will face the Thunder as the No. 8 seed.

The first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs begins Saturday, April 20.

Source: Basketball Insider

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