Thunder have 'eyes on the prize' after clinching West's No.1 seed

By Sports Desk April 15, 2024

Chet Holmgren and the Oklahoma City Thunder have their "eyes on the prize" as they target an NBA Championship tilt.

The Thunder clinched the No.1 seed in the Western Conference with a 135-86 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

Oklahoma City will face either the New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings or Golden State Warriors in the first round.

But for Holmgren, the celebrations for finishing top of the West will be short-lived.

"I wouldn't say celebratory so much as just kind of recognising the fruition of all the hard work that we've been putting in," Holmgren said.

"We're not in the position we're in by accident. There was a lot of dedication and hard work that went into it.

"But we're not celebrating, because what we're trying to do, we're not there yet. So, we're still eyes on the prize, locked in."

The Thunder finished the regular season with a 57-25 record, as they edged out the Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Timberwolves in a three-horse race for the No.1 seed.

"It's super surreal. It's fun," said Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

"Obviously, you play to win. It's [more fun] like that, but I think it goes back to us chipping away at it every day and not worrying about the past or the future.

"Just chipping away, seeing where that gets us, and us taking that mentality has allowed us to get here.

"So, yeah, it feels good, something to be proud about. We have a lot more work to do."

Reigning NBA champions the Nuggets might have finished second in the West, but they did tie a franchise record with their 57 wins.

"To tie the franchise record for wins in a season is outstanding, especially on the heels of winning a championship," coach Michael Malone said.

"That's been the mantra all year long. Not being satisfied."

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