Reason: Momentum. It's real in sports, and the Thunder is carrying plenty of it into 2010-11. The season opener against Chicago is at home and a little less difficult with the absence of Bulls big man Carlos Boozer. A one-game road trip to Detroit should be trouble-free, and continuity and home-court advantage should give the Thunder the edge in its Halloween tilt with Utah.
Reason: Home-court advantage. Look for the Thunder to go 7-1 at home in the first full month. Road games at Portland, Utah, Boston and Houston won't be easy. But the Thunder will be off and running if it establishes itself at home early.
Reason: There is not a team on this month's schedule that is head and shoulders better than the Thunder. And four of the five most difficult opponents —Phoenix, Denver, Dallas and Atlanta, must come to OKC.
Reason: The Thunder must take on the best of the best in January — road games against San Antonio, Dallas, Denver and the Lakers loom, as well as home dates with Orlando and Miami. Even the middle-of-the-road teams, Memphis twice, Houston and New Orleans, could be tough challenges.