Thunder Will Open Season With Tough Stretch
By Randy Renner
The NBA will release the 2014-15 regular season schedule this afternoon at 5 o'clock Oklahoma time with a special on NBA-TV and a full schedule reveal on NBA.com but portions of the schedule are being leaked.
Sources say the Thunder will open this season like they did last season, on the road out west.
But this time the opponents will be two of the top challengers in the Western Conference and the games will be part of season opening back-to-back.
Barring a rare last minute change, the Thunder will open the season on Wednesday, October 29th at Portland and then will follow that up with a trip down the coast to Los Angeles to play the Clippers on Thursday October 30th.
That game in LA will likely be part of a TNT double-header because it will be the Clippers season opener (according to the LA Times) and their first game played under new owner Steve Ballmer.
The Trail Blazers kept things close in the Northwest Division against the Thunder for most of last season until OKC managed to pull away in the last month.
So it looks to be a rough way to get the season started.
The Thunder will come home to Chesapeake Energy Arena to face another Western Conference challenger in the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, November 1st.
The Thunder seldom play on Saturdays and it's even more rare to have a Saturday home game during the college football season but that's what will happen.
However, on November 1st, both OU and OSU are out on the road. The Cowboys will be in Manhattan, Kansas, to play K-State and the Sooners will be in Ames, Iowa, to play Iowa State.
The NBA's entire Christmas Day schedule has leaked and the Thunder will play the San Antonio Spurs in the Alamo City at 2:30 in a contest that will be nationally televised by ABC.
The other Christmas games will be Cleveland at Miami, featuring LeBron James return to South Beach, Washington at New York, the LA Lakers at Chicago and the LA Clippers playing Golden State.
The season begins on Tuesday, October 28th with a double-header on TNT featuring the Spurs hosting the Dallas Mavericks (earlier reports indicated the Cavs would be in San Antonio) and the second game on Opening Night will reportedly be the Houston Rockets playing the Clippers, but if that IS the case then the LA Times is wrong with their report that the Clips won't open the season until the 30th when they host the Thunder.
More details may leak out through the day and we'll keep you posted right here and on our Twitter feed page.
This evening we'll break out some of the highlights of the schedule.
ESPN Loves The Thunder
ESPN's panel of NBA experts has picked the Thunder to finish the 2014-15 season with the NBA's best record at 58-24. That would actually be one game worse than OKC finished last season and two games short of where the Thunder finished the season before.
The ESPN panel predicts the San Antonio Spurs to finish right behind OKC in the Western Conference at 57-25 and that the LeBron led Cleveland Cavs will win the Eastern Conference at 56-27.
ESPN says the rest of the West will shake out like this...
3rd LA Clippers, 4th Portland, 5th Dallas, 6th Memphis, 7th Golden State, 8th Houston. Failing to make the playoffs will be...9th Phoenix, 10th New Orleans, 11th Denver, 12th LA Lakers, 13th Sacramento, 14th Utah and 15th Minnesota.