While games against Western Conference opponents matter most, the Thunder have some intriguing eastern conference matchups this season.
The first matchup is against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. The two will play twice this season, with the first game in November and the second in March.
This is a crucial matchup because it gives a young Thunder team the chance to measure themselves against the league’s best.
Oklahoma City held their last season, as the teams split a pair of games last season. In doing so again this season, it’d be an excellent sign for the Thunder’s rebuilding process.
Another underrated matchup for the Thunder is the Charlotte Hornets. Charlotte was nearly a playoff team last season but was unable to win a play-in game.
Oklahoma City also split the season series with Charlotte last year. Both games were decided by one possession.
The Hornets are similar to the Thunder as both are young teams led by dynamic point guards.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lamelo Ball could be competing for the best point guard in the NBA title in a few years.
This matchup won’t be seen until after the New Year, as their first matchup isn’t until January.
For the Atlanta Hawks, this year is about making the next step to becoming genuine championship contenders. While last year's run to the eastern conference finals was impressive, doing so again would prove last season was no fluke.
The Hawks were in a similar situation as Oklahoma City just a few years ago. A team with a lot of young talent but not progressing in terms of winning.
But that’s just one reason why this is an intriguing matchup. The other goes back to another individual matchup for Gilgeous-Alexander. This time it’s against Trae Young, who emerged as a superstar during last year’s playoffs.
The Thunder point guard recently said he wants to be one of the best point guards of all time.
During New York Fashion Week, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (@shaiglalex) told GQ's @TylerRickyTynes that he wants to be one of the best point guards of all time https://t.co/69Ru2bfpJ4 pic.twitter.com/9FuVgOmdm7— GQ Sports (@GQSports) September 16, 2021
To do that, Gilgeous-Alexander needs to excel in matchups against elite point guards like Young. Also, by doing so, Gilgeous-Alexander will be living up to his new max contract extension he signed this offseason.
What Eastern Conference opponent do you want to see the Thunder matchup with
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