The NBA schedule is out, and the league has cut back to three Christmas Day games, after playing five last Christmas. And this time, the Thunder didn’t make the cut.
The Christmas Day games are Boston at New York (ESPN), Miami at Dallas (ABC) and Chicago at the Lakers (ABC).
More scheduling notes, all contingent, of course, on the lockout ending before opening tip:
* It’s not likely a Thunder game will square off against an OU or OSU bowl game.
The Big Bowl is Jan. 9. The Fiesta Bowl is Jan. 5. The Holiday Bowl is Dec. 28. The Alamo Bowl is Dec. 29. The Insight Bowl and Pinstripe Bowl are Dec. 30. The Thunder is not scheduled on any of those dates.
But the Cotton Bowl is Jan. 6, a night the Thunder is scheduled to host the Rockets. So the Cotton Bowl is the only likely conflict.
* The Thunder plays five of its first six games on the road. Among those road games? Bulls, Lakers, Mavs, Suns, Knickerbockers. OKC is set up for a slow start. Maybe a delayed season isn’t such a bad thing.
The Thunder in November has seven games at home and nine on the road, eight of each in December, six home and eight road in January, six of each in February and finally eight home and six road in March, six home and four road in April. So not until March does the home/road ratio start breaking the Thunder’s way. If OKC can maintain a solid pace early, the Thunder should be set for a strong stretch drive.
* The Thunder has 19 sets of back-to-back games, including 10 with both games on the road. The Thunder had 14 back-to-back sets last season. Playing on consecutive nights, especially both on the road, is a difficult assignment.
* The Thunder’s intraconference, but interdivision, schedule is tough. The Thunder plays every team in the Northwest Division four times each. That includes playoff teams Portland and Denver. But of the five other Western Conference playoff teams, OKC plays four of them four times. The Thunder gets Memphis just three times but plays the Lakers, Mavericks, Spurs and Hornets four times each.
That’s a tough schedule.