San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said he is still trying to figure out exactly how last year's Western Conference Finals suddenly flipped in the Thunder's favor. The Spurs won the first two games at home and OKC then swept the next four games to advance to the NBA Finals.
“I'm the one who said they committed an identity theft after those first two games,” Popovich said before Monday night's 107-93 loss to the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. “Then we decided to play the way they played those first two games, but they were smarter and ended the series playing the right way and we played the way they did the first two games. It really is true. I'm still trying to figure it out, but we stopped trusting each other and we played in a crowd and we didn't hit the first open man and that's what they did for two games in a row. After that, they got it right.”
THE EBB TURNS
The Thunder and world champion Miami Heat share more in common than competing in last year's NBA Finals. They also have played the fewest road games so far this season, with eight each.
With so few games outside Chesapeake Energy Arena, it stands to reason OKC also has played the most home games in the league with 16. However, the Thunder's strength of schedule ranks 21st out of the 30 teams, while the Heat's ranks second.
On the flip side, Denver has played the fewest homes games (eight) and the most road games (18).
A favorable schedule no doubt has played a part in the Thunder's 20-4 record and current 11-game winning streak. All schedules equal out in the end, with 41 games home and away for all teams.
The ebb changes for OKC with back-to-back games at Atlanta and Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday, followed by a game at Miami on Christmas Day.
The Thunder's next home game is Dec. 27 against Dallas. The Mavericks loosely have put the return of Dirk Nowitzki (knee surgery) around New Year's Day.
The Thunder plays 15 of its next 22 on the road. When OKC begins its February schedule, it will be back to all-square having played 23 homes games and 23 road games.