Preview 78 of 82: Thunder @ Pelicans

Time: 5:00 PM CT

TV: NBA TV/Fox Sports Oklahoma

Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC/97.1 FM Tulsa)

Game Notes: Thunder / Pelicans

It’s a new day and a new month for Thunder basketball and the players (and fans) should approach tonight’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans with a fresh outlook. Have the past two weeks of basketball been especially frustrating? Absolutely. However, the outcomes of those games can’t be changed and dwelling on them will only diminish the Thunder’s confidence. The best thing they can do now is focus on one paramount goal: make the playoffs.

Hopefully, dropping from 4th to 6th in the Western Conference standings will light a much-needed fire under the OKC offense. The Pelicans fell to 8th in the West after their loss to Cleveland on Friday, so they’ll be fighting with a vengeance of their own tonight.

Tip-off is at 5:00 PM CT and will be televised on NBA TV and Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder is currently 1-point underdog according to Odds Shark.

Injury Report

Thunder

  • Andre Roberson Out – Knee

Pelicans

  • Alexis Ajinca: Out – Knee
  • DeMarcus Cousins: Out – Achilles
  • Frank Jackson:  Out – Foot

Probable Starters

Pelicans: Rajon Rondo, Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, Anthony Davis, Emeka Okafor

Previous Results

Pelicans lead the season series 2-0.

Nov 20: NOP 114, OKC 107 [BOX SCORE]

Feb 2: NOP 114, OKC 100 [BOX SCORE]

Notes

Brow Power. Yesterday, Anthony Davis supposedly shaved his trademark unibrow and hopefully, his dominance over OKC went with it. (This has since been revealed as an April Fools joke.) In two games against OKC this season, Davis has averaged 30.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. Since the Pelicans lost DeMarcus Cousins to a torn Achilles in late January, Davis has been on an MVP-level rampage. He’s currently shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three.

Melo Takes a Seat. During the fourth quarter of Friday’s game against Denver, Carmelo Anthony was about to check back in but decided not to, telling Coach Billy Donovan to let Jerami Grant close the game. This comes in the wake of criticisms of both Anthony and Donovan over Anthony’s crunch time minutes despite his poor shooting. When asked about his decision to sit, Anthony said, “I was sitting the whole fourth. Then [Grant] hit that 3, so it was like just let him go out there and continue to play, see what happens.” In future games, Anthony’s willingness to sit could potentially signal a decrease in his overall minutes in favor of Grant, who has had a terrific couple of games lately. However, Anthony himself insinuated earlier in the season that he does not intend to come off the bench in lieu of starting.

Holiday Season. Since the All-Star Break, Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday has been on another level averaging 20.6 points, 6.9 assists, and 5.1 rebounds per game (compared to 18.6 ppg, 5.5 apg, and 4.3 rpg before the break). In the Thunder’s last meeting with the Pelicans, OKC did a good job of neutralizing Holiday’s shooting (11 points on 33.3 FG percentage), but allowed him to tally 11 assists and a +32 rating.

AD vs. Kiwi. Most NBA teams are at a loss when it comes to putting a body on Steven Adams, but that’s not the case with New Orleans. You can expect a battle royale between bigs tonight and not just because Adams loves playing Fortnite. Davis got the best of Adams in the previous two outings, but Adams was able to do some serious damage on the offensive boards on February 2. Adams contributed 7 of OKC’s 15 offensive rebounds while Davis was responsible for 0 of New Orleans’ 5 offensive boards. Adams is the best in the biz when it comes to converting offensive rebounds into second-chance points and he’ll be a major key to the Thunder mitigating Davis tonight.

April Duels. Today’s game kicks off a difficult final stretch for the Thunder. On Tuesday, the team will face the Warriors at home. On Saturday, OKC gets the Rockets in Houston. Next week, the group will travel to Miami to face the Heat who are fighting for the seventh seed in the East. Finally, the Thunder will end the 2017-2018 regular season on April 11th against the Grizzlies at the Peake.

Author