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How Have the Thunder Fared in Back-to-Backs This Season?

A look into how back-to-backs have effected the Thunder this season.
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The Thunder (14-31) make its way to Cleveland Saturday to take on the Cavaliers (27-19), hoping to avoid a winless four-game road trip.

Saturday’s game is Oklahoma City’s seventh back-to-back of the season, a scheduling quirk that has not treated it kindly thus far.

The Thunder are 1-5 this season in the second game of back-to-backs, the lone win coming Oct. 27 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Of the six back-to-backs thus far the Thunder have split the two held at the Paycom Center, while dropping all four road games. The thing is, that hasn’t much mattered for the Thunder in terms of performance.

The Thunder have managed just 99.2 points per game on the second night of a back-to-back while its opponents have averaged a whopping 118.2 in those games.

The standout game of the six games is undoubtedly the Thunder’s Dec. 2 trip to Memphis to face the Grizzlies. Without its starting backcourt of Josh Giddey and Shai Gilegous-Alexander, the Thunder put up arguably the worst performance in franchise history — losing 152-79, on the wrong side of the NBA record for largest point margin in a game.

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The Thunder is the youngest team in the NBA and in back-to-backs it has shown. In the front half, OKC isn’t any better than the back — going 1-6 with an average margin of defeat of 8.3 points.

The NBA has been conscious in scheduling in recent years to limit the number of back-to-backs, with the number going from 580 league-wide in the 2014-15 season to just 406 this season. The average per team has come down from 19.3 to 13.5 in that same span.

Back-to-backs are the NBA equivalent of being thrown into the deep end for young players. With short recovery times and same-day scouting reports it can be a good barometer to see where those young players are at as the season progresses, despite the challenges it presents.

If schedules remain the same, OKC will have seven back-to-backs remaining this season, with the next coming Feb. 4-5 in Portland and Sacramento respectively.

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