Durant and Green talk a lot about the burden of losing 62 games and how never want that feeling again. The Thunder routinely will look to Durant and Green at the end of games, so how they close games will be key.
Also in the Thunder’s favor is a the fact that 25 of its first 51 games come against teams that didn’t make the playoffs, offering the chance for a good start that builds a young team’s confidence.
The prospect of an enhanced home-court advantage and low expectations could help the Thunder steal a few more wins as well. The Sonics were 13-28 at home while averaging 13,355 fans a night. That’s 355 fewer tickets than the Thunder sold in five days of season ticket sales last summer.
Teams expect a rowdy Ford Center after the Hornets’ time in Oklahoma City, but they may sell the Thunder short.
Last year’s Sonics had losing streaks of three, four, five, six, eight, 11 and 14 games. They also lost 13 games by five points or less.
Still, Seattle competed hard. There’s no reason to think an improved Thunder won’t do the same. Playoff teams Phoenix, Dallas and Denver have question this year andcould be in decline.
The Thunder also should be able to compete with Memphis, Sacramento, Minnesota and Golden State in the West and a host of teams in the East.