Oklahoma City Thunder schedule 2013: Statement games define season

USA TODAY Sports

Many nights this season, the Oklahoma City Thunder face challengers atop the Western Conference and beyond.

Call last season's playoff exit a symptom of relying too heavily on two elite scorers, or blame a knee injury that sidelined one of those scorers. Whatever the case may be for the Oklahoma City Thunder, expectations haven't changed heading into 2013-14. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are still part of a very good basketball team led by coach Scott Brooks. Westbrook is out for at least the first 4-6 weeks of the regular season, but if he returns to his old form, the Thunder will unquestionably be a contender again out West.

The Thunder will, as usual, have a target on their backs. With the improvement in the Western Conference, teams will be looking to make a statement, but old rivals will still dominate Oklahoma City's schedule this season.

Five games to watch

Nov. 13 at Los Angeles Clippers -- When Doc Rivers was with the Celtics, his team became known as LeBron James' biggest antagonizer. Now that Rivers is headed west, there's a good bet his Clippers' main targets will be Durant, Westbrook and the Thunder. If the Clippers want to become a defensive force as promised, making enemies with Oklahoma City is a solid start. The Thunder must push back.

Dec. 11 at Memphis -- Redemption is likely on Oklahoma City's mind. Last postseason, the Grizzlies knocked the Thunder out of the playoffs in the second round following Westbrook's knee injury in the prior series against the Rockets. Though Memphis is now being led by coach Dave Joerger rather than Lionel Hollins, the Grizzlies are too similar to last season's squad not be considered a major threat in the Western Conference.

Dec. 29 vs. Rockets -- Can the Houston Rockets quickly make up the difference in the conference elite thanks to the addition of Dwight Howard? Defeating the Thunder, the team that beat eliminated them from the playoffs last year, would certainly go a long way in making a statement during the first few months of the postseason.

Jan. 17 vs. Warriors -- Golden State also falls into the category of rising superpower, and they now have a wing defender to stop Durant in Andre Iguodala. A regular season meeting should give Mark Jackson's squad a good look at how it might stop one of the NBA's best scorers.

Jan. 29 at Miami -- In 2012-13, the Thunder didn't reach the conference finals, let alone the NBA Finals, but there's no love lost between two of the best teams in the league that have two of the most recognizable faces in the game. If you haven't figured it out, we're talking about LeBron James and Durant.

Tough tests

During the last two weeks in January, the Thunder play Memphis, Houston, Golden State, San Antonio, Miami and Brooklyn, and five of the six are on the road.

And in the final two weeks of the year, Brooks' squad hosts San Antonio but plays on the road at Houston, Indiana, New Orleans and against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Thunder also have a home game with New Orleans and Detroit to go with two road contests at Phoenix and Sacramento.

Easiest stretches

March should be a less hectic month for the Thunder. They open against the Bobcats, Sixers and Suns and for the rest of the month should be the favorite aside from tough games against Houston and Chicago. Oklahoma City also faces the Lakers and Mavericks twice each on top of games against Cleveland, Denver and Toronto. The 14-game schedule for the months ends with home games against Sacramento and Utah.

Important schedule facts

Back-to-backs: 15

Season opener: Oct. 30 at Utah

Home opener: Nov. 3 vs. Suns

Longest road trip: Four games (April 4-9)

Longest homestand: Six games (Nov. 18-Dec. 1, Feb. 20-March 4)

2013-14 schedule

OCTOBER
@ Utah Wednesday, October 30 2013 9:00 PM EDT coverage
NOVEMBER
@ Minnesota Friday, November 01 2013 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Phoenix Sunday, November 03 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Dallas Wednesday, November 06 2013 9:30 PM EST coverage
@ Detroit Friday, November 08 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Washington Sunday, November 10 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday, November 13 2013 10:30 PM EST coverage
@ Golden State Thursday, November 14 2013 10:30 PM EST coverage
@ Milwaukee Saturday, November 16 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
Denver Monday, November 18 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Clippers Thursday, November 21 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Utah Sunday, November 24 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
San Antonio Wednesday, November 27 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Golden State Friday, November 29 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
DECEMBER
Minnesota Sunday, December 01 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Sacramento Tuesday, December 03 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Portland Wednesday, December 04 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ New Orleans Friday, December 06 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Indiana Sunday, December 08 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Atlanta Tuesday, December 10 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Memphis Wednesday, December 11 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Lakers Friday, December 13 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Orlando Sunday, December 15 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Denver Tuesday, December 17 2013 9:00 PM EST coverage
Chicago Thursday, December 19 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ San Antonio Saturday, December 21 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
Toronto Sunday, December 22 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ New York Wednesday, December 25 2013 2:30 PM EST coverage
@ Charlotte Friday, December 27 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Houston Sunday, December 29 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Portland Tuesday, December 31 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
JANUARY
Brooklyn Thursday, January 02 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Minnesota Saturday, January 04 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Boston Sunday, January 05 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Utah Tuesday, January 07 2014 9:00 PM EST coverage
@ Denver Thursday, January 09 2014 10:30 PM EST coverage
Milwaukee Saturday, January 11 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Memphis Tuesday, January 14 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Houston Thursday, January 16 2014 9:30 PM EST coverage
Golden State Friday, January 17 2014 9:30 PM EST coverage
Sacramento Sunday, January 19 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Portland Tuesday, January 21 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ San Antonio Wednesday, January 22 2014 9:30 PM EST coverage
@ Boston Friday, January 24 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Philadelphia Saturday, January 25 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Atlanta Monday, January 27 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Miami Wednesday, January 29 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Brooklyn Friday, January 31 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
FEBRUARY
@ Washington Saturday, February 01 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Memphis Monday, February 03 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Minnesota Wednesday, February 05 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Orlando Friday, February 07 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
New York Sunday, February 09 2014 1:00 PM EST coverage
@ Portland Tuesday, February 11 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Los Angeles Lakers Thursday, February 13 2014 10:30 PM EST coverage
Miami Thursday, February 20 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Clippers Sunday, February 23 2014 1:00 PM EST coverage
Cleveland Wednesday, February 26 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Memphis Friday, February 28 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
MARCH
Charlotte Sunday, March 02 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Philadelphia Tuesday, March 04 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Phoenix Thursday, March 06 2014 9:00 PM EST coverage
@ Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, March 09 2014 3:30 PM EDT coverage
Houston Tuesday, March 11 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Los Angeles Lakers Thursday, March 13 2014 9:30 PM EDT coverage
Dallas Sunday, March 16 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Chicago Monday, March 17 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Cleveland Thursday, March 20 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Toronto Friday, March 21 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Denver Monday, March 24 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Dallas Tuesday, March 25 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Sacramento Friday, March 28 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Utah Sunday, March 30 2014 3:00 PM EDT coverage
APRIL
San Antonio Thursday, April 03 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Houston Friday, April 04 2014 9:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Phoenix Sunday, April 06 2014 9:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Sacramento Tuesday, April 08 2014 10:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday, April 09 2014 10:30 PM EDT coverage
New Orleans Friday, April 11 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Indiana Sunday, April 13 2014 6:00 PM EDT coverage
@ New Orleans Monday, April 14 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Detroit Wednesday, April 16 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
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