OKC Thunder record 9th road win mirrors team’s scrappy identity

Chris Paul #3 and Steven Adams #12 of the OKC Thunder in action during the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)
Chris Paul #3 and Steven Adams #12 of the OKC Thunder in action during the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images) /

With the win in Chicago, the OKC Thunder grabbed a franchise record ninth road victory punctuating just one reason why this club is feasting.

Entering the season pundits thought the revamped OKC Thunder would be headed to the lottery. Thunder Nation bought into the time for a rebuild knowing General Manager Sam Presti had stocked the draft cupboard full.

Early feedback about the youngster Shai Gilgeous-Alexander only served to add optimism about the future. The Thunder began the season as expected. They struggled early as the team tried to figure out their identity, develop chemistry and find a way to win.

Losses came quickly as the team struggled particularly on the road losing their initial six games away from Chesapeake and seven of the first eight road matches with the lone victory coming against the tanking Warriors.

From that point forward this iteration of the OKC Thunder road record reflects their identity of a scrappy team who fights to the final buzzer often winning in the clutch. After the loss to the Blazers in their eight road game OKC has compiled a 16-3 road record!

Combining the early season results they have an overall road record of 17-10. Pretty impressive when you consider those seven losses all occurred before the end of November.

Consider how much the 76ers and Heat struggle on the road. While both clubs feast at home the elephant in the room is if neither gets a home court first round seed (one likely will) then how does that affect their playoff chances?

Whereas teams who win on the road are the types of clubs who’ll shock in the postseason. The situation is dire in the East partially because Miami and Philly as two of the better teams struggle on the road. In fact only four teams have winning road records in the East:

Eastern plus .500 road teams:

In order of win percentage:

  • Milwaukee Bucks: 24-5 (82.7 percent)
  • Toronto Raptors: 19-8 (70.3 percent)
  • Boston Celtics: 18-12 (60 percent)
  • Indiana Pacers: 14-14 (50 percent)

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Western plus .500 road teams:

In order of win percentage:

The West perform better on the road, yet still only boast seven clubs with winning records:

Los Angeles Lakers: 23-5 (82.1 percent)

Dallas Mavericks: 20-9 (68.9 percent)

OKC Thunder:  17-10 (62.9 percent)

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Denver Nuggets: 17-11 (60.7 percent)

Houston Rockets: 17-12 (58.6 percent)

Utah Jazz: 16-13 (55.1 percent)

LA Clippers: 16-13 (55.1 percent)

Overall the OKC Thunder has the fifth-best road win percentage. Wipe away those opening games and imagine where the Thunder would be both in terms of road wins and seeding.

One truism that arises each postseason is they say a playoff series isn’t a series until one of the teams wins on the road.

TI often states it’s imperative the Thunder break their bad habits like starting slowly or not defending to their identity in third quarters. The reason TI harps on this is habits become trends and define a team. In this case the OKC Thunder has developed a very solid habit of winning on the road.

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Perhaps that’s why so many pundits are stating “no one wants to play the Thunder in round one”. If they keep up this type of road dominance it’s easy to understand why!