Nice, Golden State comes to Oklahoma City twice. Cool, OKC gets another Christmas Day game – this year against the Timberwolves and it’s even pretty cool, The Thunder get 21 games which will be on national television.
The NBA schedule was released on Thursday afternoon and that’s just some of the Thunder-based highlights. But there’s more.
We all know about KD coming back to OKC. That will happen Saturday, Feb. 11 and Monday 20. Meanwhile, the season will open on the road for the Thunder, Wednesday, Oct. 26 at Philly. OKC’s first game will be Friday, Oct. 28 vs. Phoenix.
Here are five things, maybe below the surface, not quite as obvious to pay attention to, when it comes to the schedule for the upcoming season:
1. The return of Scott Brooks
Everyone is mad about Durant leaving, but what kind of reception will Brooks get when he comes back to Chesapeake Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 30? Mixed bag, for sure. Brooks helped lead Durant and Russell Westbrook to an NBA Finals, and a number of multiple impressive seasons, but the conventional wisdom was Brooks held the team back. He was fired before the start of last season and the Thunder went on to the Western Conference Finals.
2. The return of Reggie Jackson
Those were the days when folks united in their hatred of Reggie Jackson, huh? Well, things have changed. Jackson might not be the most-despised, but fans and Westbrook, too, will remember how Jackson ended at the end of last season when Detroit beat the Thunder in Detroit in what amounted to a meaningless game for OKC. Jackson carried on, made a show of it and talked up a big game. The Pistons went on to lose in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Can’t wait to see how Westbrook and his teammates respond when the teams meet in .
3. Bloody January
OKC. It doesn’t get tougher than January for the Thunder. The Thunder have 15 games during the month and 12 are away, including at Houston, Chicago, Clippers, Golden State, Cleveland and San Antonio. How bout that to the start of 2017? The good news is OKC has nine of 12 games at home in February.
4. Reunion Nights
Sure, Reggie Jackson is on the way back in November, but a few others come back home they will be can’t-miss gameste
Nov. 13, Serge Ibaka, traded in the offseason, is back home. Expect a warm welcome. Nov. 16, James Harden comes back to OKC, expect a lot of boos. Sure, they haven’t played for the Thunder, but when Blake Griffin (Nov. 11) and the Clippers and Buddy Hield (Dec. 4) and the Pelicans show up in town, interest will be high.
5. Great start
January will be rough, but the league helped OKC out by giving the Thunder a decent start. OKC begins at Philly, which is a break, considering, if the game happens any time later in the season, it’s one you could definitely see the Thunder not giving it their full attention. Making it the first game of the year guarantees a maximum effort from OKC. After Philly, the Thunder get Phoenix and then the Lakers at home. What a great opportunity to establish some wins early on. A 3-0 start is and should be the expectation.