The Thunder had their 3-game winning streak snapped with an eventful overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
It was an admirable fightback; the teamrallied from being down by as many as 21 points against one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had himself another spectacular performance, finishing with a season-best 44 points to go with 10 rebounds and 6 assists.
If he is not an All-Star starter in February, there has to be serious discussions about changing the voting process – he has been that damn good. Gilgeous-Alexander is playing the sort of consistently excellent basketball that most GMs dream about.
OKC, however, is 14-19 as we get close to the midway point of the regular season. They are two games back from the Minnesota Timberwolves and in competition for the final play-in spot, unless something drastically changes for the Thunder.
The rest of the schedule heading up to the mid-point has a mix of tough and winnable games for OKC. Given their recent victories against Memphis and twice against Portland, it would be tough to discount their ability to beat anybody.
OKC has two games coming up where they have the talent and cohesion to outduel their opponents. The first game comes at home against the tanking San Antonio Spurs, a team hellbent on Victory Wembanyama and on the road against a Charlotte Hornets team that is sieve-like on the defensive end.
The schedule then gets tough in the first weeks of January. The Thunder play host to the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, two of the squads expected to make deep playoffs runs and battle for a Finals’ berth.
Following the Celtics game, The Thunder have a tough back-to-back spot on the road against an Orlando Magic side who has won 8 of its last 11 games. The Magic have been powered by the youthful duo of Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero, two young players who have turned Orlando into a force to be reckoned with.
Oklahoma City then have a couple of home games against Washington and Dallas. The Wizards are 1-9 in their last 10 games and are hitting their usual losing streak that they seem to encounter every season in the Bradley Beal era. Led by SGA, the Thunder should be the favorite in that matchup.
The next game against the Mavericks will be difficult, as often is the case when you go up against a world-class opponent in Luka Doncic. But they are not unbeatable, Dallas is only one game above .500 for a reason. They do not have the pieces to support Doncic reliably on a nightly basis and are nowhere near being a powerhouse team.
The Thunder play the 41st game of the season – the halfway mark – on the road against a Miami Heat team that is struggling to find health and consistency.
Given how the last game between both squads ended, Tyler Herro drained a game-winner, the Thunder will be eager to get some payback and proceed to the latter half of their campaign on a high note.
The upcoming road looks challenging for the Thunder, but this could be the opportunity for them to go on a season-defining run. Oklahoma City have the chance to put themselves in pole position for the play-in as the dust begins to settle.