The NBA’s Board of Governors is set to meet on Thursday afternoon where they will vote on the guidelines for returning to play and finish out the 2020 NBA season. Ahead of the meeting, rumors have come out that the plan will include 22 teams to return to action, and each team will play 8 games to finish out the regular season.
The games will be held at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and due to the rushed nature of finishing out the season to get to playoffs, we are going to get a lot of basketball in a short amount of time.
With the Thunder sitting comfortably in the middle of the pack in the West, it’s safe to say that they will make the playoffs regardless of the result of the final 8 games, but each of these matchups will be extremely important as they will decide where exactly OKC will fall in playoff seeding.
The schedule is yet to be released, and with play not resuming until the end of July, it may not be for a while. Here is who I expect OKC to play for the Thunder’s 8 games, along with my expectations headed into the playoffs.
Based on the Thunder’s remaining schedule prior to the halt of the season back in March, OKC had 11 games against 8 teams that are already in playoff position. Those teams—Utah, Memphis, Denver, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Miami, Brooklyn, and Dallas—are who I expect OKC will be matched up with to decide the final playoff seeding.
Also remaining on OKC’s schedule were matchups with Washington and Phoenix, who are both just outside of playoff contention but are to be included in the 22 teams to resume play, so the Thunder could end up seeing one or both of them as welll
As for expectations through these 8 games, there are a number of factors that will contribute to the end result. Time off can be a good and bad thing for teams, and while it appears that a number of players for the Thunder have continued to work and stay in shape, there is no telling what team chemistry will look like as play resumes.
Still, I anticipate that OKC will be at full strength as these final 8 games begin, and despite the tough schedule, anything fewer than 4 wins would be a complete disappointment. 6 wins seems like the best-case scenario, and if the Thunder somehow goes undefeated through all 8 games and moves into the playoffs as the hottest team in the NBA, who’s to say they can’t win it all?
In all seriousness, hoisting the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy is more than likely not in the cards for Oklahoma City, but this team has proven themselves over the course of the season time and time again, so do not be surprised if they make some noise in this year’s altered postseason.