NBA schedule released; Thunder to open with Spurs
The NBA schedule has been released, and the Thunder will open the season Nov. 1 in San Antonio at 8:30 p.m. Central. The Thunder's home opener will be Nov. 2, when Oklahoma City will face the Portland Trail Blazers at 7 p.m.
No, The Grammys aren't coming to Oklahoma City.
Neither is the circus or the rodeo.
OK, so the rodeo is but that's nothing new around here and it's not what's kicking the Oklahoma City Thunder out of its home arena for two weeks in January.
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A scheduling quirk force-fed the Thunder a taste of what Chicago and Los Angeles and San Antonio each experience annually — a long and arduous road trip that has become a staple in their schedules.
When the NBA released the league-wide schedule for the 2012-13 season Thursday night, it was that peculiarity that popped off the page listing the reigning Western Conference champions slate.
From Jan. 6-27, the Thunder will play 11 of 13 games away from Chesapeake Energy Arena. The 11 road games are a record number for any month since the Thunder relocated to Oklahoma City, besting last January's total by two.
The six straight road games the Thunder is scheduled to play from Jan. 18-27 also is a record for most consecutive road games. Last season, the Thunder had two five-game trips. In each of the first three seasons the Thunder never had a road trip lasting more than four games.
Despite no major event being held in Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Thunder will have to overcome a stretch similar to the Bulls’ annual “Circus Trip,” the Spurs’ annual “Rodeo Trip” and the Lakers and Clippers’ annual “Grammy Trip.”
But it could be worse for the Thunder.
The Grammys will put the Lakers on the road for seven straight games from Jan. 30-Feb. 10. The same music festival will send the Clippers packing for eight straight games from Jan. 30-Feb. 11. And the Spurs must vacate their home building for nine straight games from Feb. 6-24 because of the rodeo.
It's unclear exactly why the Thunder will play six straight road games and 11 in January. Each team provides the league available arena dates every year and the league-wide schedule is built off that. This year's quirk could be a result of other teams’ buildings having a small window of availability for the Thunder to play in those venues. As of late Thursday night, the calendar on the website for Chesapeake Energy Arena showed no events scheduled for January.
Of course, there is then the simpler matter of balance.
Because 18 of the Thunder's first 30 games are at home, Oklahoma City naturally must make up the road games at some point. It perhaps begins to explain why 11 of the Thunder's 16 January games are on the road.
But scheduling isn't expected to slow down a Thunder squad seeking to avenge its humbling loss to Miami in the NBA Finals.
After finishing 47-19 a year ago, the Thunder will open the 2012-13 campaign with a nationally televised TNT game on Thursday, Nov. 1 at San Antonio in a rematch of last year's Western Conference Finals.
It will be one of a record 25 nationally televised games the Thunder will play this season across major networks TNT, ESPN and ABC. Oklahoma City also will be featured on NBA TV five times this year.
The Thunder will make its home debut one night later against Northwest Division rival Portland.
Notable games include Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the Clippers making their lone appearance inside Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 21 for an ESPN game.
Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and the Lakers visit on Friday, Dec. 7 for an ESPN game and again on Tuesday, March 5 for a TNT game.