The Oklahoma City Thunder started off what will be their toughest stretch to their schedule so far this season yesterday. Including yesterday’s road game vs. the Toronto Raptors, the Thunder are going to play 11 of their next 13 games on the road.
The Thunder have the best record in the league right now at 26-7 but part of that is thanks to most of their games being at home so far this season. The Thunder are 17-3 at home so far this year and 9-4 on the road.
No team plays better on the road than at home and the Thunder are no exception. They average 112.9 points per 100 possessions at home compared to 106.8 on the road. Their defense has been slightly better on the road but overall their net rating is just 7.7 compared to 11.9 at home.
The Thunder are simply shooting better at home and doing a better job of sharing the ball at home. They are shooting 49.2 percent at home vs. 46.2 percent on the road. They’re shooting 43.3 percent from three at home compared to 35.5 percent on the road. The Thunder are also averaging two more assists per game at home and one less turnovers.
The upcoming road trip for the Thunder will consist of mostly Western Conference teams such as the Lakers, Clippers and Warriors.
The biggest concern will be the play of role players like Serge Ibaka, Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefolosha. All three have added value to the Thunder this season by being great spot-up shooters but on the road, that could change.
Ibaka is averaging 15.3 points per game at home this season and shooting 58.9 percent from the field. On the road, he’s down to 13.1 points per game and 52.6 percent from the field.
Martin is averaging 16.7 points per game at home and shooting 49.5 percent from the 3-point line. On the road, he is down to 13.4 points per game and 37.9 percent from three.
Sefolosha’s numbers at home and on the road have actually been almost identical so perhaps he won’t experience any kind of drop off in production during this trip.
The most important player for the Thunder during this road trip may be Russell Westbrook. Westbrook’s pretty different on the road than at home this year. He takes three more shots per game on the road but shoots a worse percentage. He is shooting only 23.7 percent from three on the road and is committing 1.2 more turnovers per game away from home.
Westbrook gets tunnel vision sometimes when the Thunder fall behind early and he thinks he needs to take over for them to come back. He’s sometimes right in this mindset, especially when on the road but it is still clear that some of his play this way is kind of reckless.
The Thunder starters are still very susceptible to being outscored early in games and when on the road, that will be a bigger deal than when at home. The Thunder will have to remain calm and stick to their game plan throughout the game to have the best chance of winning some of these games after some inevitable slow starts.
This road trip will be the first big challenge for this Thunder team this year. Everything has gone very smooth so far and now we will see how they deal with this kind of adversity.