If it's August 10th, don't forget to vote in the Barry, Jr.-Eschbach matchup!
If it's August 11th, don't forget to vote in the Pinto-Tramel-Patton matchup above!
What jumps at you right off of the page? National TV. Last year, we had 3 (or 4) national games. This year, we have 24, and they span every possible network. I was a bit skeptical that this would happen, given that we are the epitome of a small market team, but apparently the big wigs think that the Thunder draw enough national interest to justify being on TV. However, there is a notable drop in TV coverage for the last two months of the Thunder season, which may indicate that they don't anticipate us making a playoff run. Then again, it could just mean that they will "flex schedule" us in if we do make a run. Who knows?
More breaking it down below.
According to Sports Media Watch (I'm too lazy to count), the Thunder are tied for 7th in the league in number of broadcasts on TNT, ABC, and ESPN/ESPN2. That's not bad, considering the only small market team ahead of us is the historic San Antonio, and that Portland, another small market team on the rise, is tied with us.
And do you know what all of these national games mean? Less Brian Davis and Grant Long. Don't get me wrong, they're wonderful people, but their commentary style and NBA Knowledge could use some work. Not that the national guys are any better....
What's curious is that the "highly anticipated" Christmas Day game against the Nuggets will be on ESPN, rather than ABC. That's because there will be a whopping 5 Christmas Day games this year, meaning that 33% of all NBA teams will be playing on that day, including the lowly Knicks and Warriors. It will be a nice game, don't get me wrong, but I don't feel all that special anymore.
Another interesting fact is that we won't have a road trip over 4 games in a row, and only one of 4 in a row at that. Advantage of being in the middle of the US, or the NBA rigging the schedule in our favour? I'd tend to think the earlier. Especially considering that the 4 game road trip will come late in the season and feature matchups against Phoenix, Portland, and Denver. And that fact that 6 of our last 9 games are on the road.
It's hard to say where things will be easy and where things will be hard, because the NBA really seems to do a good job adequately mixing up the games and providing a schedule that is at a consistent difficulty. That is, until the end of the year, where we'll have a whopping 6 game home stand and the 4 game road trip mentioned earlier.
I guess I'll close off this analysis with some key dates for next year. Feel free to provide your own analysis on anything I may have missed in the comments below. And vote in the poll!
Oct. 27th- Opener against Chicago. The Classic Westbrook/Rose battle.
Nov. 4th- Thunder get booed at Portland.
Nov. 7th- Eastern Conference Champs Boston come to the Ford Center.
Nov. 19th- At Boston on ESPN.
Nov. 24th- The rivalry with Dallas continues.
Nov. 29th- New Orleans comes home....but does anyone really care anymore?
Dec. 25th- Denver Christmas Day game at home on ESPN.
Dec. 31st- New Years' Eve game at home vs. Atlanta.
Jan. 6th- At Dallas on TNT.
Jan. 13th- Vs. Orlando on TNT.
Jan. 17th- At LAL on TNT.
Jan. 30th- Vs. Lebron's Heat on ABC.
Feb. 23rd- At San Antonio on ESPN.
Feb 25th- At Orlando on ESPN.
Feb. 27th- Vs. The Lakers on ABC.
Mar. 16th- At Miami on ESPN.
Mar. 23rd- Vs. Utah in a late season divisional match.
Mar. 27th- Vs. Portland on ESPN in a late season divisional match.
April 1st- At Portland in a late season divisional match. (Thunder Get Booed Part II.)
April 5th- At Denver in a late season divisional match.
April 8th- Vs. Denver in a late season divisional match.
April 10th- At the Lakers for a late season grudge match.