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It all starts at home for the Thunder

By Mike Baldwin Modified: October 25, 2009 at 5:18 pm •  Published: October 25, 2009
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Improve defensively. Make more shots. Trim turnovers. Those are areas the Thunder must improve to significantly improve on last year’s 23-win season.

But for fans who don’t dissect box scores, or stat sheets, there’s an easier barometer to monitor progress of a young team some are labeling a team on the rise:

Home-court record.

Oklahoma City finished 15-26 last season at the Ford Center.

Post a winning record at home and the Thunder moves closer to playoff contention. Post another losing record in the Ford Center and there’s still a ways to go.

"Protecting home court is a big thing,” said Nick Collison. "That would be a big step for us.”

It won’t be easy, especially early. The Thunder, which opens the season at 7 p.m. Wednesday at home against Sacramento, faces playoff teams in 10 of its first 15 home games.

Last year’s disastrous 3-29 start included a 1-12 start at home. But the Thunder was 14-14 at home the final four months, sparking a 20-30 finish.

Ford Center wins over playoff teams San Antonio, Portland, Dallas, Utah, Philadelphia and Detroit — and close calls against the Nuggets (twice), Suns, Hornets, Spurs and Rockets — were signs a young team played with more confidence at home.

But to take the next step, some of those close calls need to be wins.

Portland, a team often compared to OKC, needed three seasons to significantly improve its home record.


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