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Oklahoma City Thunder to open season on road

Thunder's first home game is Nov. 3 against Phoenix.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: August 6, 2013

In a summer clouded with confusion and consternation and defined by doubt and dejection, a glimmer of hope reared its head Tuesday.

It was the 2013-14 NBA schedule.

For the Oklahoma City Thunder, it brought reason to believe that this team, despite what many have labeled a disappointing offseason, remains capable of compiling a higher winning percentage than the previous campaign for the fifth consecutive season.

That's because the Thunder lucked out with a super schedule, a favorable 82-game slate that, if all goes well, should position OKC to claim a second straight 60-win season and its fourth straight division crown.

Noticeably absent from this year's schedule are long road trips, arduous back-to-backs and dreaded four-game-in-five-nights stretches. They've been replaced with extraordinary balance, extended home stands and, above all, abundant and consistent rest.

The first 30 games offer a peek into that balance.

Although the Thunder will open the 2013-14 season on the road, with games at Utah on Oct. 30 and at Minnesota on Nov. 1, OKC will never be away from home long. The home opener comes in the third game of the season, a Nov. 3 date with Phoenix, and 15 of the Thunder's first 30 games will be played inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.

This will mark the second consecutive season that the Thunder opens the season on the road. Last year, the Thunder opened the season against the Spurs in San Antonio. In each of the four seasons before 2012-13, the Thunder opened at home.

But study the schedule and you'll see how that's one of only a handful of gripe-worthy inconveniences — if you just must nitpick.

Most everything else is gravy.

The Thunder is scheduled for only 15 back-to-backs, which matches last year's total. But six of this year's back-to-back sets come in the final 17 games, or after March 15. That means that for much of this season's first 65 games, a well-rested Thunder squad should be able to stock up on victories.

Additionally, the Thunder has only one test of four games in five nights on its schedule. And three of those four opponents — Portland, Boston and Philadelphia — project as lottery teams.

January appears to be the Thunder's toughest month, as 10 of the team's 17 games will be played on the road, against worthy opponents such as Denver, Memphis, Houston, San Antonio, Miami and Brooklyn.

But the next month again turns favorable, when the Thunder plays seven of its 11 February games at home. The month also includes a six-day hiatus between the Thunder's final game before the All-Star break and its first game out of the break.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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