After losing their last two games to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks, the Oklahoma City Thunder are currently sitting at 22-22 (.500) just beyond the midway point of the season and sit exactly three games behind the Phoenix Suns for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The New Orleans Pelicans have a lead on the Thunder in the playoff race, sitting two games back (one in the loss column).
Looking at each team's upcoming schedules. The Pelicans play one road game (against the Thunder), while the Suns and Thunder basically split home and road games the rest of the way. The Suns have the hardest schedule, while the Pelicans have the easiest. Well, look for yourself.
|Thunder Schedule||Suns Schedule||Pelicans Schedule|
The Thunder get the next two against teams that are pretty much locked in for top five picks before a big game with the Memphis Grizzlies on the last day of the month. Then, they have a potential trap game against the Magic at home before heading into the break with matchups against the Pelicans, Clippers, Nuggets (a division rival that always plays the Thunder tough) and those damn Grizzlies again.
Then there are the poor Suns. Six of their next eight games are against teams that are fourth or better in their conference and playing really good basketball.
Here is my projection heading into the All-Star break:
|Thunder Prediction||Suns Prediction||Pelicans Prediction|
|Projected Record: 27-26||Projected Record: 30-25||Projected Record: 29-24|
As someone who watches more basketball than a human should (to the detriment of myself and my marriage) these aren't just random picks, but more than educated guesses. Based upon my picks, the Pelicans slide into the 8th spot, Suns drop to the 9th and the Thunder stay in 10th.
Right now, I'm just not sold on the chemistry of the Thunder. Since getting rid of Austin Rivers, the Pelicans are playing a lot better as winners of five straight (yes, I have them beating the Hawks because the Hawks have to lose sometime). The Suns... God, what a brutal stretch.
What say you, can the Thunder get the 8th seed by the All-Star break?