The Oklahoma City Thunder’s schedule has just recently been released, meaning that it’s time to see which games you should have marked on your schedule to watch NO MATTER WHAT. Of course, we are hoping for a season that meets or exceeds the result of last season. Every team’s schedule can be broken up into three categories: star matchups, rival games, and games that will shape the season.
Each category is comprised of three games, to give OKC Thunder, or any NBA fans, the top 9 games to watch this season. All games are at home, so if you live in OK or are willing to travel, these are definitely the games to check out.
Russell Westbrook has been given the best odds to win the MVP trophy this season, ahead of Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and others. A star matchup, in OKC’s case is when we go up against another team with an elite point guard.
1.February 11th showdown against the Golden State Warriors at Chesapeake Energy Arena
This game is going to be a big showdown, for many reasons. One of these reasons being the superstar matchup at point guard between 2015-16 regular season MVP Stephen Curry and 2016-17(?) regular season MVP Russell Westbrook which certainly has all the components to be a thrilling game.
2.March 7th against the Portland Trail Blazers at Chesapeake Energy Arena
Two teams led by a star point guard; with seemingly little firepower on the bench. However, both teams have shown that their supporting casts can play at an all-star level if their names are called. This game will be very important coming down the stretch, as the Trailblazers are also a team fighting for one of the lower playoff spots. Any loss against Portland this season could prove to be very costly in the quest for one of those eight playoff spots.
3.November 11th game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Chesapeake Energy Arena
The standard youth versus experience battle between the nimble Russell Westbrook and the crafty Chris Paul. However, this game will be decided by the shooting guard and small forward positions, the weaknesses of both teams, as opposed to the point guard position, where both players should neutralize one another. Thanks to newcomer Victor Oladipo, the Thunder should have the edge in the backcourt. The big-men in this contest could also be worth the price of admission as lob city faces off against the Stache brothers.
These are the teams and players that have left bad memories in the mind of any OKC Thunder fan. In addition, the rivals include division foes that we will be seeing in many games this season.
1.February 9th game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers at Chesapeake Energy Arena
LeBron James. 2012. Need I say more? In addition to this being a superstar point guard matchup between Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving, this game is a rival game solely for the 2011-12 finals series between LeBron James’ heat and the OKC Thunder.
2.December 9th game versus the Houston Rockets at Chesapeake Energy Arena
Some of the best games in the NBA since James Harden left OKC have been between the Thunder and the Rockets. Something about the rivalry between Harden and Westbrook in addition to the hatred caused by Patrick Beverly injuring Russ in the playoffs causes both teams to play some of their best basketball against one another.
3.December 25th game with the Minnesota Timberwolves at Chesapeake Energy Arena
Not only is this game important because it is the Christmas day game and because it is against a team with some of the best future talents, but this game is especially important because the Timberwolves happen to be our division rivals. Although divisions do not matter as much as they did a few seasons ago, all teams still have more games against division opponents, increasing the importance to win these games.
Games that will shape the season
1.October 28th game versus the Phoenix Suns at Chesapeake Energy Arena
The opening home game of the season is against the Phoenix Suns. This game has extra importance because it is necessary to come out and set the tone early in the season, and what better way to do it than with a commanding win at home.
2.March 9th game against the San Antonio Spurs at Chesapeake Energy Arena
The game against the Spurs will shape our final stretch: the last seven games of the season against “weaker” teams. A strong performance and even a win against the Spurs will help increase confidence amongst the players and will increase our chances of winning out against teams that we should beat (with the most difficult opponent following the Spurs’ game being the Grizzlies).
3.April 12th against the Denver Nuggets at Chesapeake Energy Arena
The final game of the regular season, which thankfully happens to be at home, is against the Denver Nuggets. A strong win to cap off the regular season is just what we will need to use as a springboard for postseason success.