OKLAHOMA CITY — The soft stretch of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s schedule is over.
Over the last three weeks, the Thunder have played six of their nine games against teams near the bottom of the standings.
Oklahoma City won all six of those games and beat one of the three teams — the San Antonio Spurs — who they played who are battling for a playoff spot.
But starting with Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Thunder have 11 consecutive games against teams with winning records.
“This is why we wanted to join forces and come together, for these type of moments and to gear up for the postseason,” Oklahoma City forward Carmelo Anthony said, referring to Anthony and Paul George joining Russell Westbrook on the Thunder. “For us as a group, we feel like that’s where we’re headed.”
But with 12 games remaining, the time to gear up is now.
To do it, they’ll have to turn around recent fortunes against teams with winning records. Since Feb. 1, the Thunder are just 2-6 against teams with better-than-.500 records, beating only Golden State on the road and the Spurs at home.
The Thunder is 9-2 against teams with sub-.500 records during that stretch.
Oklahoma City comes into this tough stretch having won four consecutive games.
“For us, this is only going to prepare us,” Oklahoma City guard Corey Brewer said. “In the playoffs, there are no bad teams. If we’re gonna make the playoffs, why not go through what we’re gonna go through this next 11 games?”
While the Thunder are, for now at least, in the No. 4 spot in a jam-packed Western Conference race, the Clippers are on the outside looking in after Thursday’s loss to Houston.
Los Angeles has won 11 of their last 16 to stay in playoff contention. It led for a lot of time Thursday before the Rockets came back to take control.
The Clippers are trying to make the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. The franchise had been to the playoffs only seven times total in the first 41 seasons before this recent stretch.
But this one won’t be easy, especially with a recent rash of injuries that included starting guard Avery Bradley being lost likely for the rest of the regular season with a hip and abdominal injury that required surgery and starting forward Danilo Gallinari suffering a broken right hand.
Friday’s game is the second in a stretch of nine road games in 11 games for the Clippers. Thursday’s game was the first of eight consecutive games against teams above .500 for Los Angeles.
Oklahoma City has won both of the teams’ first two meetings this season.
The Thunder could be without two of its biggest two-way weapons, though.
Center Steven Adams and George were both limited in Thursday’s practice and both are listed as questionable.
Adams missed Oklahoma City’s Tuesday win in Atlanta with a hip contusion suffered against Sacramento on Monday, while George suffered a pelvic strain in the second half Tuesday