Oklahoma City Thunder: Drawing nearer to the top seed
The Thunder’s 109-94 victory at Portland on Tuesday night keeps the good guys three games ahead of San Antonio in the race for the Western Conference’s top seed. The Thunder is 38-12; the Spurs are 34-14. That leaves OKC with 16 regular-season games remaining; the Spurs have 18 to go.
Who has the easier schedule? Let’s look.
The Thunder and Spurs have some common games. Both play at Sacramento, at the Lakers and at Phoenix. Both host Memphis.
So that leaves the Thunder with 12 games and the Spurs 14 that are not duplicated by the other.
The Thunder plays at the Lakers twice, the Heat, the Pacers, the Bucks, the Timberwolves and the Clippers. The Thunder hosts the Bulls, the Raptors, the Clippers, the Kings twice and the Nuggets.
The Spurs play at the Cavaliers, the Jazz, the Warriors twice, the Celtics and the Kings. The Spurs host the Pacers, the Jazz, the TrailBlazers, the Cavaliers, the Lakers twice, the Hornets and the Suns.
So let’s break it down. The Clippers and the Pacers are a decent match; so throw out the Spurs’ home game against Indiana and the Thunder’s home game against the Clips. Cleveland and Sacramento are similar, so throw out the Thunder’s home game against the Kings and the Spurs’ home game against the Cavs.
Denver and Utah are dead ringers. So toss out the Thunder’s home game against the Nuggets and the Spurs’ home game against the Jazz. The Raptors and the Hornets both stink, so throw out OKC’s home game against Toronto and the Spurs’ home game against New Orleans.
So that leaves the Thunder with eight games and the Spurs 10.
Here are the Thunder’s eight: at the Lakers, at Miami, at Indiana, at Milwaukee, at Minnesota, at the Clippers and hosting Chicago and Sacramento.
Here are the Spurs’ 10: at Cleveland, at Utah, at Golden State twice, at Boston, at Sacramento and hosting Portland, the Lakers twice and Phoenix.
Look at that again. The Thunder clearly has the tougher schedule down the stretch. The teams have similar schedules except for those 8-10 games. Of OKC’s eight games, four are on the road against good teams — the Lakers, Miami, Indiana and the Clippers. Two are on the road against mediocre teams — Milwaukee and Minnesota. One is at home against a great team, Chicago. One is at home against a bad team, Sacramento.
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