Predicting OKC Thunder last 18 regular-season games and battle for 4th seed

OKC Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 dribbles the ball against the Dallas Mavericks (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 dribbles the ball against the Dallas Mavericks (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Without the suspension, the OKC Thunder last regular-season game was set for this evening. With that in mind, we predict the outcome of those final 18 games.

Okay let’s face it I’m an addict — of basketball. I’ve spent the past 36 days pining for OKC Thunder action or any games. Sure, it’s understandable why the NBA isn’t playing and it’s all for a better cause but I’m more keenly aware than ever of how much of my time is spent watching basketball. This week ESPN’s The Jump returned albeit with a half-hour instead of an hour – but it was a reason for celebration here.

While we await news on whether the season will return it’s noteworthy that tonight would’ve marked the final game of the Thunder regular-season as they were due to play the Mavericks in Dallas to wrap things up.

On March 11th when the season was suspended OKC had accumulated a record of 40-24 with 18 games remaining. They were on the precipice of overtaking the Jazz for the fourth seed and home court advantage. Ironically, if the league resumes play now home court won’t mean anything since all games will likely be played on a neutral site with no fans in attendance. The only true advantage (unless the league does something to reward the top seeds in a playoff series) is jockeying to determine opponents.

In the West, the Lakers had virtually sewn up the top seed and the Grizzlies held a 3.5 game advantage over each of the Blazers, Pelicans, and Kings. Yet, the most uncertain seeds were the two through seven placements as no team held more than a 1.5 game advantage on their nearest opponent.

So, let’s look at those 18 games the OKC Thunder had left on the schedule as well as the two teams likely to challenge them for that fourth seed.


The Jazz falls down the ladder with a tougher schedule on tap facing the OKC Thunder, Lakers, Spurs, and Nuggets twice each. Utah was set to face playoff seeds the Clippers, Mavericks, and Grizzlies once.

Additionally, Utah would play teams fighting for positioning including the Pelicans and Blazers while only drawing five ‘gimme’ matches to lottery seeds although technically the Spurs, Pels, and Blazers also are lottery seeds. It’s conceivable the Jazz might’ve gone .500 down the stretch given this tough schedule.


The Rockets had an easier schedule with six bonafide lottery teams as well as the Blazers, Kings, and Spurs (twice).

The only tough home games of their remaining nine were the Raptors, Grizzlies, and Kings (and possibly the Spurs who always play Houston tough).

However, half their games were scheduled for the road mostly against tough playoff seeds (Lakers, Mavericks x2, Bucks, Pacers, and 76ers). Houston was18-14 entering suspension so those road games I’m assuming would be the difference in them finishing behind the Thunder.

OKC Thunder:

The final 18 games for the Thunder featured seven legit lottery seeds which I’m calling wins across the board. The Grizzlies were among the more exciting teams all season but their closing itinerary is scary therefore those games are also marked as wins.

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The only consecutive losses would come at the Staples Center in a back-to-back against the LA powerhouses.

  • Utah Jazz at Thunder,  March 11th: win
  • Wolves at Thunder, March 13th: win
  • Thunder in Washington vs. Wizards, March 15th: win
  • Thunder in Memphis vs. Grizzlies, March 17th: win
  • Thunder in Atlanta vs. Hawks, March 18th: (on back to back) win
  • Denver at Thunder, March 20th: win
  • Thunder in Miami vs. Heat, March 23rd: loss
  • Hornets at Thunder, March 26th: win
  • Thunder in Golden State vs. Warriors, March 28th: win
  • Thunder in Denver vs. Nuggets, March 30th: loss
  • Suns at Thunder, April 1st: win
  • Thunder in LA vs. Clippers, April 4th: loss
  • Thunder in LA vs. Lakers, April 5th: (back-to-back) – loss
  • Brooklyn Nets at Thunder, April 7th: win
  • New York Knicks at Thunder, April 10th: win
  • Thunder in Memphis vs. Grizzlies, April 11th (back-to-back) win
  • Jazz at Thunder, April 13th: Utah is on the front end of a back-to-back set playing in Portland on the 14th: win
  • Thunder in Dallas vs. Mavericks April 15th: loss

In this fast prediction, the Thunder goes 13-5 down the stretch and .500 on the road. While I grappled with the Clippers game and he Grizzlies back-to-back game this felt like a reasonable outcome, if not erring on the side of caution.

Notably, it’s also conceivable OKC could’ve kept things close in Dallas had they played tonight and if they needed the victory to retain homecourt over Houston or Utah, I wouldn’t bet against them. However, in the above scenario, they would already have wrapped up that fourth seed and therefore sat Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, and possibly others.

Next. Most surprising Thunder player through 64 games. dark

While we continue to wish everyone good health and safety the hope is our mutual physical distancing efforts will pay dividends and we’ll have live NBA games to watch soon. In the interim I remain in isolation dealing with my NBA withdrawal and recognized addiction.