If this were a different sport, the Thunder's upcoming schedule would qualify as unnecessary roughness.
Thursday night's game against the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs (56-20) will be followed by a Friday night game at the Indiana Pacers (48-27), and then followed by a Sunday noon game at home against the New York Knicks (48-26) — all in a span of 63½ hours.
The Spurs have the second-best record in the NBA, the Pacers have a five-game winning streak and the Knicks have won 10 straight. Together they have a combined record of 152-72 (.679).
After that, OKC plays two more playoff contenders on the road in the Utah Jazz (39-37) next Tuesday and the Golden State Warriors (43-32) next Thursday. That's followed by a Friday game at the Rose Garden in Portland, one of the league's tougher venues.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks had just finished fielding questions about the Spurs before Thursday night's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena when he apologetically was asked about Indiana.
“They're physical,” Brooks said of the Pacers, who are battling the Knicks for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. “They're athletic at a lot of positions. They play a very tough brand of basketball. They play an old-school style of basketball that makes you compete every night, every possession. They're good.
“You're not going to find a tougher back-to-back … and not to pile on any more, the third team coming up is pretty hot also — New York.”
Pacers All-Star forward Paul George said he's looking forward to defending three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant.
“(Durant) knows the game, he knows the angles, he knows how to position himself and handle the ball well,” George told the Indianapolis Star. “He shoots the ball well. He's a complete nightmare for a defender. It will be a tough night for me. I'm aware of that. The only thing I can do is to try to get him to take tough shots, send him to Roy (Hibbert inside), and continue to guard guys like I have all year.”