Programming note: Warriors-Thunder coverage starts Sunday at 3:30 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
The NBA schedule makers are tossing mid-November cupcakes to the Warriors, and they've been gobbling up every crumb.
Another one comes on Sunday, when the Warriors and their rolling tide of momentum roar into Chesapeake Energy Arena to meet the severely weakened Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Warriors (9-2) are off to their best start in 42 years and have won four in row, the last three – all against sub-.500 clubs – by an average of 19.7 points. The Thunder have lost five straight and, at 3-11, have the worst record in the Western Conference.
Which makes Oklahoma City the perfect snack for the Warriors, who have been on such a run of routs that coach Steve Kerr has played everyone on the roster.
"We just need to stay healthy and stay humble when we go out on the court," said Marreese Speights, the team's most productive big man off the bench.
Kerr welcomes the first extended road trip of the season, seeing five games away from the Bay Area, including Thanksgiving in Charlotte, as an opportunity to fortify the team-building experience.
"I'm actually really happy we're going on the road," Kerr said. "It's a good time for it. We're 5-1 at home. We've won the last four. We're starting to play well.
"An early-season weeklong trip is really good. You bond. You're challenged. You have to feel that threat of the opposing crowd. So it'll be good for our team to get out there and play some difficult games and have to compete and play with poise on the road. I'm looking forward to it."
The Warriors last season were the league's third-best road team, their 24-17 record behind only San Antonio (30-11) and Oklahoma City (25-16). That Thunder team, though, had MVP Kevin Durant and, for most of the year, All-Star Russell Westbrook.
Neither Durant nor Westbrook will play Sunday or is likely to take the court before Thanksgiving. Durant has been out since preseason and Westbrook was hurt in the second game of the regular season. Both recently were cleared for non-contact drills and hope to return around Dec. 1.
Meanwhile, opponents are feasting on the Thunder. The Warriors simply want to get theirs before moving on to the rest of the road trip.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Stephen Curry vs. Reggie Jackson. It's the Warriors All-Star against perhaps the best non-starting point guard in the league – who happens to be starting for Westbrook. Jackson is very explosive but also is inconsistent.
Draymond Green vs. Serge Ibaka. Green is an excellent defender, willing and capable, but he'll need help against Ibaka, who is an underrated scorer and, at 6-foot-10, almost four inches taller.
KEYS TO VICTORY:
1) Stop the noise. The Chesapeake crowd is famously vociferous, giving the Thunder perhaps the league's strongest homecourt advantage.
2) Merge toward Serge. Ibaka's defense is wonderful, but if the Warriors challenge wisely he can be prone to foul trouble.
3) Rely on the relays. If the Warriors use their depth and run as they have been, there is no way such a thin group can keep up.
Warriors – F David Lee (strained left hamstring) is out indefinitely but is with the team.
Thunder – F Kevin Durant (right foot fracture), G Russell Westbrook (right second metacarpal fracture), F Perry Jones (right knee contusion), F Mitch McGary (left foot fracture) and F Grant Jerrett (left ankle surgery) are out.
The Warriors last season lost two of three to the Thunder and have lost their last 10 games in Oklahoma City. The Warriors are 4-13 against the Thunder since the franchise relocated from Seattle to Oklahoma City.