After the schedule comes out, most of the discussion around it centers around back-to-backs. They can take a seemingly easy month and turn it into an incredibly difficult one. Having to play Wednesday night at home and then turn around and fly to Orlando for a game less than 24 hours is not easy.
But simply looking at back-to-backs is just the beginning. It’s only scratching the surface. The real meat and potatoes to the difficulty of a schedule comes down to not only the back-to-back, but what the team you’re playing on that second night comes in looking like. What if you’re playing your fourth game in five days but your opponent has had three days off? Those are the type of minor quirks in a schedule that can really make a difference come April.
In the Thunder’s case, they are in the middle of the pack in back-to-backs of just 17. The Thunder are on the high end of four games in five days though with three (five teams have four of those), but are on the low end of three in four days with a back-to-back with just nine (only three teams have fewer). Here’s how the whole thing shakes out for the Thunder:
|4 in 5||3||1|
|3 in 4 (B2B finish)||9||4|
|3 in 4||12||16|
|1 day rest||30||32|
|2 days rest||16||11|
|3+ days rest||5||11|
|Games against unrested opponent||12||N/A|
|B2B's on the road||17||8|
The Thunder only get one game this season against a team playing in its fourth game in five days, but the 16 games against opponents playing their third in four days is tied for the most in the league. OKC’s 11 games against teams coming in with three days rest is pretty high and only 12 games against teams coming off a game the night before is extremely low (the most is Atlanta with 28).
It’s really hard to decide what the most important factor is in these schedule quirks, but the fact is, the Thunder don’t have a lot of back-to-backs but don’t get to play many teams coming off a game the night before either. Balanced, I guess.
It certainly seems to me like the Thunder have a difficult draw because of the tough first two months and because they’re starting with five of six on the road. But there’s nothing too abnormal about the schedule in terms of rest.