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OKC Thunder Could Struggle During The Remainder Of The Regular Season

The remainder of the 2019-20 NBA regular season will begin in exactly one month. Prior to the July 30 restart, teams will have their full rosters set later this week on July 1. The Oklahoma City will then head to Orlando to finish the season on July 8 and will start training camp on July 9.  

The Thunder will play eight more regular season games to determine final playoff seeding. Their schedule is extremely interesting and includes teams all throughout the standings. 

There are numerous factors that will affect how teams play in these final eight games and into the playoffs. These include rust from not playing in several months, struggling to get back in rhythm, reconstructed rosters, and a change in stakes for all teams. 

With all of this in mind, it’s impossible to know exactly how the Thunder and their opponents will play when the season resumes, but what we do know if that Oklahoma City didn’t fare well against their eight opponents to this point in the season. 

Through 16 games, Oklahoma City went 6-10 (.375) while going 40-24 overall (.625) against the teams they will finish the regular season against. Six of these eight teams are currently playoff teams, five of which have a winning record to this point. These eight teams combined to go 300-215 (.583) in the 2019-20 regular season so far.

The season will officially resume on July 30, although the Thunder will not play that night. Let’s take a look at Oklahoma City’s remaining regular season schedule and how they fared against these teams this season.

August 1: Utah Jazz (1-1)

After splitting the season series with Utah, Oklahoma City was prepped to have a chance to jump them into the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference the night that the NBA shut down. Now, with the Jazz back on the schedule first when the season resumes, the Thunder will have a chance to once again make that leap in the standings.

August 3: Denver Nuggets (1-1)

Although they dropped their first game against Denver this season, Oklahoma City had their way with them just a few weeks before the NBA season was put on pause. One of their most impressive wins of the season, the Thunder caught the Nuggets while they were on one of their hottest streaks of the season and were the better team by far. Can they continue their hot streak after being off the court for the last several months?

August 5: Los Angeles Lakers (0-3)

Currently the best team in the Western Conference by a wide margin, the Lakers have had their way with the Thunder this season. In their three matchups, Oklahoma City has lost by a combined 23 points and dropped all three games. Perhaps the only hope for the Thunder in this matchup is load management from either LeBron James or Anthony Davis considering they should be able to lock up the No. 1 seed fairly easily. Los Angeles will be looking to integrate some of their new roster additions in Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith.

August 7: Memphis Grizzlies (1-1)

The Grizzlies have a lot to play for and will bring their all every single night. Holding onto the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, they are the team several others are chasing. After splitting the series with Memphis this season, it is hard to predict how Oklahoma City matches up with them now. One of of the active teams at the NBA trade deadline, their young core with a newly-added Justise Winslow will be fun to watch. Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroder will certainly have their hands full with Ja Morant.

August 9: Washington Wizards (0-1)

This might be the easiest game on the Thunder’s eight-game schedule, although they lost in their matchup early in the season. Coming off of a game against Memphis, the Thunder will have the opportunity to play against a Wizards team who is 24-40 and likely has no chance to make the playoffs. To make things worse for Washington, sharpshooter Davis Bertans will not be suiting up down the stretch for them. This is a should-win and must-win game for Oklahoma City.

August 10: Phoenix Suns (2-0)

Talk about the perfect second night of a back-to-back. After a game against the Wizards, the Thunder will take on a Suns team that they beat in both matchups this season. While Phoenix hasn’t been great this season, it is an extra advantage to Oklahoma City that Kelly Oubre is out for the remainder of the season. Playing on the second night of a back-to-back is never easy, but this is the best case scenario for the Thunder.

August 12: Miami Heat (0-1)

The Heat are one of the premier teams in the Eastern Conference. While leaning on proven guys like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, Miami also relies on a ton of younger players. After adding Andre Iguodala at the trade deadline, they now have a veteran, proven player to push them through the end of the regular season. Oklahoma City lost their lone matchup to Miami this season but will look to even things up on August 12.

August 14: LA Clippers (1-2)

The last game of the regular season for the Thunder will be against the Clippers. While this seems less than ideal, it could end up working out for Oklahoma City. If the Clippers have already solidified their spot in the standings by this point, there is a chance they could rest their stars for some if not all of this final regular season game for the Thunder.

According to Basketball Reference’s Playoff Probabilities Report, the Thunder are most likely to finish somewhere between the No. 4 and No. 7 seed. 

  • No. 1: 0%
  • No. 2: 0.4%
  • No. 3: 7.7%
  • No. 4: 16.4%
  • No. 5: 24.3%
  • No. 6: 29.1%
  • No. 7: 22.0%
  • No. 8: 0%

While there is no way they can obtain the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference or fall to the No. 8 seed, anything from 2 through 7 is a possibility. The standings are extremely tight in the middle of the West. 

For the Thunder, every game will count in these final eight. They would much rather play a team like the Mavericks or Jazz rather than the Clippers or Nuggets. With that in mind, these eight games will be tough for them based on how they performed against these teams earlier in the season.

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