By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
The Thunder are in the middle of a three game road trip that quite frankly didn’t exactly look dangerous when it began a few days ago.
Right now though, two games in and two losses down, with another game to go it looks downright deadly.
On Thursday the Thunder lost to a Portland Trail Blazers team that had won just two of their previous nine games and last night the Phoenix Suns, who’d been striving for the NBA’s worst record, became the Thunder’s latest worst nightmare.
Both losses were similar in that OKC struggled to hit key shots late and struggled much of the game to play defense, allowing both the Blazers and the Suns to shoot almost 50 percent.
Generally the Thunder have been excellent when they’ve played teams with losing records which is why the end of the season schedule looks so favorable for them. Only eight of the final 25 opponents had winning records coming out of the All-Star Break.
But it doesn’t seem to matter how good or bad the opponent is if the game is played away from Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Thunder are 12-19 on the road this season and have lost six straight road games and eight of their last 10.
According to NBA.com/stats OKC has a plus/minus value of plus 6.4 in home games, scoring an average of 110.3 points. On the road the Thunder are minus 6.1 and scoring just 102.5 points.
At home the Thunder shoot 46.8 percent overall (35.4 percent on threes) and opponents shoot 44.8 percent overall and 33.2 percent on threes but on the road the Thunder’s offensive numbers drop to 43.1 percent overall and 30.8 percent from deep and for the opponents the numbers rise to 46.9 percent overall and 38.0 percent from beyond the arc.
During this six game road losing streak, which dates back to a January 29th loss at Cleveland, the NBA.com/stats results are more stark. The Thunder’s shooting percentage is just 38.0 percent overall and 26.1 percent on threes for a scoring average of only 98.8 points and a plus/minus of minus 11.2.
It doesn’t help that the team is dealing with an injury to Victor Oladipo while also trying to bring three new players up to speed.
But these latest road losses to teams with losing records could have a huge impact coming down the final stretch of the season.
The Thunder had gotten to within a game-and-a-half of fourth place in the Western Conference earlier this week, that gap has now doubled and stands at three games going into games tonight and remember the Thunder still have a game remaining on this road trip, at Dallas Sunday night.
A fourth place finish will assure home court advantage in a first round playoff series and when you struggle as much as the Thunder are right now in road games, you need all the home court advantages you can get.