'0.2%': Chris Paul hasn't forgotten OKC Thunder's long preseason playoff odds
Chris Paul at first wasn’t going to give a number.
He was asked an intriguing question. On a scale of 1-10 how ready are the Oklahoma City Thunder for the playoffs?
After a 105-86 rout of the No. 1-seeded Los Angeles Lakers, the answer could have been rather high.
Instead, OKC’s leader went way low.
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“0.2,” Paul said. “0.2%.”
Paul later repeated the number.
“Nobody expected us to be here,” Paul said.
On a night the Thunder improved to 2-1 in the NBA’s restart bubble in Buena Vista, Florida, Paul wasn’t looking for satisfaction. He was looking back at how many people doubted OKC entering the season.
His 0.2% referenced ESPN’s Basketball Power Index predictions from the preseason.
ESPN gave the Thunder a 0.2% chance of making the postseason, well below the next-best percentage for Minnesota (7%).
“We’re just going to keep our head down fighting, understand that we wasn’t supposed to be here,” Paul said. “0.2% chance. 0.2% chance.”
Paul had a big night in the Thunders’ rout, scoring 21 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing six assists. He made four of his five shots in a big third quarter that saw OKC build a 20-point advantage.
He was also incredibly vocal leading the Thunder, which never trailed. It was the first time all season the Lakers had never led in a game, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
It was the next step in the Thunder’s unexpected march to the playoffs. The spot is guaranteed. Paul has noticed teammates’ shots have improved and confidence is rising since the Thunder joined the bubble.
Now, Paul wants his teammates to believe they belong in the playoffs. He always did.
“They probably get tired of me talking about it,” Paul said about the playoffs. “One of the things you learn about the playoffs is you want to make sure you have a team that feels like they can’t be beat four out of seven times.
“We’re just trying to build that identity.”