Oklahoma City Thunder 2011: 5 Tough Stretches This Season
This article is written under the assumption that the season will start on time, and all 82 games will be played as scheduled. I am of the minority that thinks a CBA deal will be struck before the clock runs out, and the season will start on time.
Many people have said the opposite, but most of them are saying that to sound smart, having not actually researched or kept up with the topic at all. I just believe there is too much money on the line for each party to keep their arms crossed, pouting in the corner.
Looking ahead to the Thunder's schedule, it seems as if we have a favorable one. The tough stretches mentioned here aren't that bad, but they can definitely present some challenges.
The team gets many fewer Sunday games this year, a relief to Thunder fans. In the 15 games played on Sunday last season, the Thunder went 6-9. It was their only losing record of all seven days of the week.
This year, the boys in blue will only see 11 Sunday games. There have been many attempts to explain this phenomenon, but with no real answer, we are simply left exclaiming, "Thank God!"
OKC went 10-7 in 17 games coming off no rest last season, an impressive mark. This year they will play 18 back-to-backs. We'll see if their youthful legs will benefit them yet again.
Nov. 18 Through 25
Harry How/Getty Images
The season doesn't waste any time getting tough on the Thunder. Two divisional rivals followed by an away game against the Spurs with no rest, then back home to face the Lakers and a Memphis team that we remember all too well.
Prediction: 3-2. We steal one in San Antonio but drop the two homes games at the end of the run.
|Fri Nov 18 ||Home||Denver|
|Sun Nov 20||Home||Utah|
|Mon Nov 21 ||Away||San Antonio|
|Wed Nov 23||Home||LA Lakers|
|Fri Nov 25||Home||Memphis|
Dec. 14 Through 23
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At least this run against good teams is spread out well. Remember, the T-Wolves gave us fits several times last season. Sure we beat them four out of four tries, but the average score of 114-108 doesn't leave me feeling too happy.
And it is a dreaded Sunday matchup, a day we always struggle on. No back-to-backs or crazy traveling will help, however.
Prediction: 2-3. The Wolves will sneak up on us as we drop the final three games.
|Wed Dec 14||Home||Orlando|
|Fri Dec 16 ||Home||San Antonio|
|Sun Dec 18 ||Home||
|Wed Dec 21 ||Away||San Antonio
|Fri Dec 23 ||Away||Miami|
Feb. 6 Through 10
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This might not be the toughest road trip when only considering the opposition (Mavs, Knicks, Bulls Nov. 5 through 10) but the double back-to-back will really test the Thunder. The teams don't make it any easier.
Prediction: 2-2. OKC loses both of the second legs to Golden State and Utah.
|Mon Feb 6 ||Away||Portland|
|Tue Feb 7 ||Away||Golden State
|Thu Feb 9 ||Away||Sacramento
|Fri Feb 10 ||Away||Utah
March 25 Through April 1
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
This rough patch sees the Thunder going up against three of the best teams in the league and a Portland team that is always tough to beat at their house. OKC benefits from a day off between each game, but the long flights will eat away at their energy.
The run is toward the end of the season and will give the Thunder a playoff-type test. The two Sunday games (Miami is at Noon EST) scare me as well.
Prediction: 3-1. Team should be in top form ready to take on any team. They avenge last year's crushing home loss to the Heat but drop one in LA.
|Sun Mar 25 ||Home||Miami|
|Tue Mar 27 ||Away||Portland
|Thu Mar 29 ||Away||LA Lakers
|Sun Apr 1 ||Home||Chicago
April 8 Through 14
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
As the season winds down, OKC have one final gauntlet of good teams and unfortunate scheduling. We will get Minnesota this time, but two back-to-backs in one week, both including the Spurs, will prove very difficult for the Thunder.
Add in Miami and Orlando to the mix, and it only gets tougher.
Prediction: 3-2. We will split with the Spurs and drop the game in Miami. Not too shabby if you ask me.
|Sun Apr 8 ||Home||Orlando|
|Mon Apr 9 ||Away||San Antonio|
|Wed Apr 11 ||Home||Minnesota
|Fri Apr 13 ||Home||San Antonio
|Sat Apr 14 ||Away||Miami|
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