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Thunder Journal: Surviving January

Thunder Journal: Surviving January

The Oklahoma City Thunder just completed the toughest month any team will play in the NBA this season.

Here’s how Mark Daigneault put it after beating the Denver Nuggets just a couple hours before the calendar turned over to February: “That month was a slog. This is our sixth game in nine days. When you really step back and think about that, that’s a very difficult schedule.”

Why was it so tough?

The Thunder played 17 games in January… the maximum amount of games allowed in a month.

The Thunder played 11 road games in January… the most any team will have in a month this season.

The Thunder played 5 back to backs in January… the most any team will play this season.

And as far as difficulty of opponents, OKC wasn’t playing the Flint Tropics or Springfield Celtics every other game. There were some lottery teams, sure, but there were also plenty of title contenders as well. Surely, those other squads felt bad for the physically exhausted and road-weary good guys from OKC, right?

"The NBA doesn't care, your opponents don't care. Nobody cares,” Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said of the Thunder’s January grind.

Without a shred of empathy from the other 29 other teams and coaches, the grueling month had the potential to knock OKC down the Western Conference standings. And checking the pulse of NBA social media recently, you’d think that’s what happened.

Let’s take a quick reminder course on The Jam-Packed January.

1/2/24 vs Celtics: Win

1/3/24 @ Hawks: Loss

1/5/24 @ Nets: Loss

1/8/24 @ Wizards: Win

1/10/24 @ Heat: Win

1/11/24 vs Blazers: Win

1/13/24 vs Magic: Win

1/15/24 @ Lakers: Loss

1/16/24 @ Clippers: Loss

1/18/24 @ Jazz: Win

1/20/24 @ Wolves: Win

1/23/24 vs Blazers: Win

1/24/24 @ Spurs: Win

1/26/24 @ Pelicans: Win

1/28/24 @ Pistons: Loss (yuck)

1/29/24 vs Wolves: Loss

1/31/24 vs Nuggets: Win

The final count is a record of 11-6. That 65% win percentage would be good for the 5 seed in the Western Conference. Not bad, I’d even say pretty good, all things considered. While the general vibe was that the Thunder have struggled recently, stepping back and viewing the schedule in context doesn’t make it seem so bad. Except the Pistons loss. That one was gnarly.

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