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Top 9: Best & Worst Games Of The Thunder Season

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The 2015-16 NBA schedule was released on Wednesday afternoon, revealing the stepping stones that the Thunder will follow during its seven-month, 82-game marathon. As is the case every year, there are great games, decent games, and games where you wonder why the two teams wasted the jet fuel to get there.

So without further delay, here’s what to watch (and not watch) this season:

Best

9. vs. Pelicans (Nov. 18)

Why:

Anthony Davis is worth the price of admission alone. Remember, he hit that wild buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat OKC during his last visit back on Feb. 6. But this matchup will be special, specifically because Kendrick Perkins will return to Chesapeake Arena for the first time as an opponent. Perk was a fan favorite in OKC and will undoubtedly receive a roaring ovation, and perhaps a special introduction.

8. vs. Pistons (Nov. 27)

Why:

Because who doesn’t want to watch Russell Westbrook try and score 80 points on former teammate Reggie Jackson? The disgruntled Jackson was dealt to Detroit last season and has since signed a max deal to remain in the Motor City. But Thunder fans haven’t forgotten about Jackson’s attitude in his final months in OKC, and Westbrook probably hasn’t, either.

7. vs. Clippers (March 31)

Why:

Griffin vs. Ibaka. Paul vs. Westbrook. Pierce vs. Durant. If that’s not enough, you also get Lance Stephenson vs. the voices in his head.

6. vs. Rockets (Jan. 29)

Why:

What better way to spend your Friday night than to go out and boo James Harden and Patrick Beverley until you’re hoarse? Houston, which quietly claimed the West’s No. 2 seed last season, should be stronger than ever. The acquisition of Ty Lawson from the Nuggets gives the Rockets a legitimate point guard who can take some of the ball-handling responsibility away from Harden. Let the hate flow through you, Thunder fans.

5. vs. Warriors (Feb. 28)

Why:

The champs make their only visit to OKC late in the season, and you can bet that the Thunder will be out for blood. Many around the league believe that Golden State coasted to a title last season because of the misfortune of others. Assuming full health, the Thunder will want to assert their dominance over the Warriors like the days of old.

4. @ Wizards (Nov. 10)

Why:

We all know that KD's contract is up at the end of this season and we all know that he’s from the D.C. area. This game will be fun for obvious reasons. The folks in the nation’s capital get their final shot at convincing Durant to come home, meanwhile the Wizards are actually pretty good.

3. vs. Lakers (April 11)

Why:

How did the Lakers make this list? Well, this is the Thunder’s home finale, and it might just be the final road game of Kobe Bryant’s career. The future Hall-of-Famer will go down as one of the top 10 or 15 players to ever grace a court, and if this is indeed Bryant’s final go-round, this will be your last chance to see him play live. However, this assumes that Bryant’s body will survive the season, which is a major question mark.

2. vs. Spurs (Oct. 28)

Why:

Opening night against your No. 1 rival is hard to beat, especially when they added LaMarcus Aldridge and David West in the offseason.  Add in the fact that it will be Thunder fans’ first opportunity to watch a fully-healthy roster in more than a calendar year, and you can bet that The ‘Peake will be electric.

1. vs. Cavs (Feb. 21)

Why:

The only draw more powerful than the Spurs is LeBron. The man who Thunder fans love to hate will bring his talents to Oklahoma City for one night only, and tickets will be hard to come by. Any opportunity you have to watch the world’s two best players go at it, take advantage.

Those all sound great. These, however, do not:

Worst

9. vs. Bulls (Dec. 25)

Why:

Playing on Christmas is an honor for most NBA players because it’s a sign of relevancy. Unfortunately, the Thunder got perhaps the least-interesting opponent available. Chicago is getting old. Not physically, but figuratively. They’ve been contenders for years and never seem to get over the hump. Derrick Rose may or may not be available, Joakim Noah will be annoying, and Pau Gasol will scream a lot. Go away, Bulls.

8. vs. Blazers (Dec. 16)

Why:

Northwest-Division rival Portland has long been a formidable foe for the Thunder. Not anymore. Gone is superstar LaMarcus Aldridge and gone is Nic Batum. Same for Wes Matthews and Robin Lopez. But if watching 7-foot-1 Myers Leonard chuck up 3s gets you off, then by all means, tune in.

7. @ Nuggets (Jan. 19)

Why:

Denver can’t figure it out. The Nuggets have some young talent in Jusuf Nurkic and Emannuel Mudiay, but they’re both probably a year or two from making a major impact. Denver, once again, will be an also-ran in the West.

6. vs. Suns (Nov. 8)

Why:

Phoenix doesn’t seem to have a plan at all. They let Goran Dragic go, but they sign Tyson Chandler. Are they trying to contend? They’re certainly not blowing it up, not with Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight under contract. Bottom line: Phoenix has no premier player, no identity and is almost guaranteed to finish just outside the Western Conference playoff picture. If you’re gonna go watch the Suns play, go to the New Year’s Eve tilt.   

5. @ Pacers (March 19)

Why:

In the infamous words of Dave Chappele as Prince: "This bores me." Indiana has entered rebuilding mode and March Madness will be in full swing. Pass this up for some college hoops.

4. @ Kings (Feb. 29)

Why:

Boogie Cousins is fun. But anything taking place at Sleep Train Arena that doesn’t start until 9 p.m. in OKC isn’t worth it on a Monday night.

3. vs. Nets (Nov. 25)

Why:

The day before Thanksgiving is always a mess. Many folks are traveling. Many others are grocery shopping and preparing their homes for their guests. There just isn't a whole lot of time for hoops. Plus, nothing will take you out of that holiday mood faster than watching Andrea Bargnani play basketball.

2. vs. 76ers (Nov. 13)

Why:

This is the type of game where a couple of interns end up sitting in the company box seats because no one else wants them.

1. @ 76ers (March 18)

Why:

Have a date night. Hang out with your kids. Watch that movie that’s been on your DVR for six weeks that you never seem to find the time for. Life’s too short to watch the Sixers.

If you want to check out the entire schedule, click here.

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