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Oklahoma City Thunder: Beware the Nuggets

by Berry Tramel Modified: April 12, 2013 at 6:45 pm •  Published: January 16, 2013

The Denver Nuggets play in downtown Oklahoma City on Wednesday night. The Nuggets arrive with a 24-16 record. That’s a good record. But don’t be deceived. Denver is better than that.

The Nuggets have survived a puzzingly brutal early schedule. Denver played at home just six times in its first 23 games. By New Year’s, the Nuggets had played 22 road games and just 10 home games. Yet the Nuggets have remained competitive. They are sixth in the NBA’s Western Conference. But don’t expect the Nuggets to stay that low.

Oklahoma City's Thabo Sefolosha (2) shoots the ball over Denver's JaVale McGee (34) during the NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

Oklahoma City’s Thabo Sefolosha (2) shoots the ball over Denver’s JaVale McGee (34) during the NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

Factoring in home/road success — give a point for a road victory, take away a point for a home loss — the NBA teams rank this way:

1. San Antonio +11

2. Oklahoma City +9

3. LA Clippers +8

3. Denver +7

5. Golden State +6

5. Indiana +6

7. Memphis +5

7. Miami +5

7. New York +5

7. Utah +5

11. Atlanta +3

12. Portland +2

13. Brooklyn +1

13. Boston +1

13. Minnesota +1

16. Houston even

16. Chicago even

16. Milwaukee even

19. Dallas -1

20. Philadelphia -3

21. Toronto -4

21. LA Lakers -4

23. Detroit -6

23. Orlando -6

25. Cleveland -7

25. Sacramento -7

25. Phoenix -7

25. New Orleans -7

29. Charlotte -11

30. Washington -12

Illuminating, don’t you think? The Nuggets were even with the Clippers until the Clips won in Houston on Tuesday night. Yet no one is talking about the Nuggets. Denver will have a ton of home games the rest of the season — the Nuggets have played 23 road games, only 17 home games — and will be a threat to finish in the top four of the West. Or even better.

Using this system is a better barometer than the routine standings, at least at this point in the season.

Here are the top eight teams in the West, in order: Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Nuggets, Warriors, Grizzlies, Jazz, Blazers.

Here are the top eight teams in the East, in order: Pacers, Heat, Knickerbockers, Hawks, Netropolitans, Celtics, Bulls, Bucks.

A few teams that jump out at you:

* Houston. The Rockets have had a favorable schedule. They could be in for a fall.

* The Lakers. LA actually is worse than its 17-21 record. The Lakers and the Raptors are about the same.

* The No. 1 seed in the East could be a horserace. Miami remains the best team, but is the Heat as driven as, say, Indiana?

 

 

 


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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