2013-2014 Pre-Season Game 4: Oklahoma City Thunder vs New Orleans Pelicans

US PRESSWIRE

The Thunder welcome the Pelicans to Tulsa, OK.

2013-2014 NBA Pre-Season
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New Orleans Pelicans (4-0)

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Oklahoma City THunder (3-0)

October 17th, 2013
Tulsa, OK
7:00PM CDT
TV: FS Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1)
Enemy Blogs: The Bird Writes, Bourbon Street Shots
Previous Meetings: Thunder won previous regular season series, 4-0
Injury Report: Russell Westbrook (out), Kendrick Perkins (out)
Probable Starters
Jrue Holiday PG Reggie Jackson
Eric Gordon SG Thabo Sefolosha
Al-Farouq Aminu SF Kevin Durant
Anthony Davis PF Serge Ibaka
Greg Stiemsma C Steven Adams

The Oklahoma City Thunder head to Tulsa to play the newly minted New Orleans Pelicans in their 4th pre-season game of the year.

We're now nearing the point of where the novelty of pre-season basketball is starting to wear off and we're itching to get to the point when these are being played for real. Tonight we get to see a Pelicans team that on the surface appears to be a vastly superior model to the one in years past that bottomed out after Chris Paul left. They moved on, got Eric Gordon, drafted Anthony Davis, and are suddenly a meaningful/meaningless 4-0 in this pre-season.

Keying their resurgence is 2nd year man Anthony Davis, who appears to be making the 2nd year leap that we once saw with Kevin Durant. In his rookie year, Durant was sometimes injured and often times a fully realized rookie, but his physical talents are enormous and we are starting to see the fruits of it. Serge Ibaka is a great defender, but it is going to be a fun challenge to see how he deals with Davis' unfolding ability.

The other key matchup that poses a challenge to the Thunder is the backcourt, where the Pelicans now have Jrue Holiday running the show. Flanked by Eric Gordon, the Pelicans have a go-mode that can attack weaker defensive teams. Reggie Jackson should be more than up to the challenge and of course Thabo Sefolosha can do a solid job. The change of pace that Holiday brings though, as well as hoops IQ and playmaking ability for the All-Star, it presents a challenge that OKC has not seen from New Orleans in some time.

As always, we pay attention to the youngsters and look for incremental improvements:

- Steven Adams' strong work on the glass and in the pick-and-roll

- Jeremy Lamb's shot making ability

- Perry Jones III's ability to figure out some role on the team

- Kevin Durant's evolution into a fully realized player

Prediction: Thunder 110, Pelicans 100

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