Predicting Disney: Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder played very well this season and will be headed to Orlando currently holding the 5th seed in the Western Conference. Chris Paul showed how much he still has left in the tank as he was named an All-Star. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a bit of a breakout year with career-highs across the board. Dennis Schroder has a legit chance at the Sixth Man of the Year award. Steven Adams keeps being a consistent anchor in the middle. It’s no wonder why they had so much success, despite the expectations on them prior to the season. Now, it’s time for a few more matches and some playoffs.
Eight Game Schedule
August 1st vs. Utah Jazz: W
Orlando will be just as much of a mental game as it will be a physical one. I don’t have to remind anyone about Rudy Gobert and his role when it comes to the NBA, Covid-19, and the shutdown. Utah will likely face the biggest psychological roadblock of any team going to Florida and I don’t think they will play well, at least not initially and they will miss Bojan Bogdanovic. Also, the Thunder won 15 of their last 18 matchups with the Jazz. All signs point to a solid initial W here for OKC.
August 3rd vs. Denver Nuggets: L
Steven Adams may have his hands full with a very much trimmed down Nikola Jokic. The Thunder lost eight of their last 10 matchups with the Nuggets. This is set to be a rough game against one of the best teams in the West and may get out of hand fairly quickly. However, if Adams and Nerlens Noel can tame “The Joker” and this could end up being close. Still, I think Denver comes out on top here as they have just had too many problems with this team as of late.
August 5th vs. L.A. Lakers: L
OKC has had no answer for the Lakers this season, going 0-3 against them. They’ve also had no answer for Anthony Davis, who averaged 33.5 points per game in the two outings when he played. The plus side is two of the defeats for the Thunder came by a total of just nine points. The bad side is the third game they lost by 15 even though both Davis and LeBron sat, allowing Kyle Kuzma to go for 36. Unless they’ve come up with a solution during the break, this could get ugly.
August 7th vs. Memphis Grizzlies: W
Rivalry games are always fun and a Grizzlies-Thunder matchup clearly meets that criteria. OKC will be coming off two really tough games and needing a good win. Memphis will be looking to hang on to the 8th seed while Ja Morant shows why he’s the Rookie of the Year. However, as Ja does battle with Chris Paul here, there needs to be some defensive focus on another rookie. Brandon Clarke made 18 of his 25 shots (72%) for 40 points in 44 minutes in the teams’ two battles this season. CP3 should handle Ja, but they’ll need to keep a man on Clarke to get this win.
August 9th vs. Washington Wizards: W
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks will be looking to get one on his former team here, even without Davis Bertans. The Thunder lost their only matchup against them this year and will be looking to even it up at one win a piece. This should be a fun matchup but one that OKC needs to win and with it being the first night of a back-to-back, they will need to do it quickly. I don’t think Washington has the means to beat the Thunder, especially without their sharpshooter and three-point avalanche master in Bertans, so I see Oklahoma City coming out on top.
August 10th vs. Phoenix Suns: L
This will be an interesting matchup and the second half of a back-to-back. The Thunder won both contests against the Suns this season but the second was by only four points and before Deandre Ayton had fully meshed himself back into the rotation. If Devin Booker, Ayton and company are clicking, this game will not be as easy as many might think. OKC should win this game but I think Phoenix might just catch them by surprise.
August 12th vs. Miami Heat: L
Miami has a really good team and a really good coach. Also, with Orlando being in Florida, this is somewhat of a home game for them. This should be a close, gritty game but the Heat should walk away victorious. The Thunder lost their only matchup against them this season and this game will likely be more of the same as OKC is handed a loss. Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Erik Spoelstra will just prove to be too much for them to be able to deal with.
August 14th vs. L.A. Clippers: L
The Clippers easily take care of business here. Kawhi Leonard had 25 points in a 15 point win against the Thunder earlier this season and it will likely be more of the same here. This game will not be pretty and Oklahoma City will likely be looking at a blowout loss.
Final Record: 43-29