3 must-watch OKC Thunder games in January

OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) drives against San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3): Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) drives against San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3): Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

The OKC Thunder enter the month of January with a 15-21 record and are fighting to stay in the play-in race. The month of January for the Thunder will be challenging, with 10 of the team’s 14 matchups coming against teams with winning records. But some of these matchups are more interesting than others, so here are the Thunder’s three most intriguing games of the following month.

January 8 vs Dallas Mavericks

On January 8, the Thunder will welcome Luka Doncic and his Mavericks to the Paycom Center for the first time this season. This star matchup will feature arguably the two best players from the 2018 draft class, Doncic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Luka Doncic has been on a tear to end 2022 and will look to bring that level of play into the new year. Recently, he put up the first 60-point, 20-rebound triple-double in NBA history in a win over the Knicks.

Aside from the excellent play to be expected from Luka and Shai, these teams played a classic game in late October. The Thunder trailed Dallas 97-81 with about four minutes left in the fourth quarter. OKC rallied back to tie the game and send it to overtime with a three from Isaiah Joe. The Thunder would go on to win in overtime 117-111 and take the season’s first matchup against the Mavs.

January 10 at Miami Heat

This one is must watch for a reason other than just the matchup. OKC’s game in Miami will mark its very first nationally televised game since game seven against the Rockets in the bubble in 2020. The Thunder had been scheduled to be on TNT earlier this season against Orlando, but Chet Holmgren’s injury spoiled the matchup of the top two picks, and the game was flexed out of that slot.

Because of the circumstances, this will be Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s first game in front of a national audience since developing into a star. SGA’s dazzling scoring ability will be on full display against a Miami team that finished a win away from the NBA Finals last season.

These two squads played a nailbiter in mid-December that saw the Heat come away with a two-point victory. Tyler Herro nailed the game-winner, but Thunder fans will likely remember the controversial no-calls that followed as time expired.

This will also be the first opportunity to show out on the national stage for some of the Thunder’s other young guys, such as Josh Giddey and Jalen Williams. More than anything else, this shows the national media’s shift in how it perceives the Thunder and its rebuild.

January 20 at Sacramento Kings

This game will be the Thunder’s first battle against the rejuvenated Kings this season. Behind head coach Mike Brown and some offseason additions such as Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk, Sacramento is playing its best basketball in over a decade.

However, their new identity as the Beam Team was the most interesting part of the Kings’ season. After every win, a purple beam of light gets lit into the Sacramento sky above the Golden 1 Center. OKC will try to prevent the Kings from lighting the beam on this night.

On the court, it will be a matchup between a couple of the most exciting backcourt players in the league as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and De’Aaron Fox take the floor. These two also have very contrasting styles of play.

SGA is known for his ability to play at his own pace and get what he wants anywhere on the floor. On the other side, Fox is famous for being one of the fastest players in the league and loves to get out in transition.

The battle on the boards will also be something to watch, with former Thunder rookie Domantas Sabonis being one of the NBA’s premier rebounders for Sacramento.

Honorable Mentions

There were a couple of games that just missed the cut. One of these was the surprising Indiana Pacers and Tyrese Haliburton visiting OKC. The other one was the Thunder taking a trip to Brooklyn to face former Thunder star Kevin Durant and the red-hot Nets.

Overall, the Thunder’s January schedule is filled with exciting matchups throughout. And the team’s performance throughout the month will likely determine whether OKC decides to pull the plug and tank once again or fight for a spot in the play-in tournament.

Next. Josh Giddey reacts to praise from NBA legends. dark