The Oklahoma City Thunder, having just lost a tight game at home, enter their toughest stretch of the season. With the next 18 games to come on the road and only five at home, energy is going to be the top priority from here on out. Ideally, the Thunder are able to put away the Pelicans without expending anybody too hard.
The Pelicans, at 10-20, are measurably worse than the Thunder’s 16-12 record. There’s really no saving grace for this team. Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday are performing at max level, and it’s hard to see anyone else stepping up. Tim Frazier, Solomon Hill, and Langston Galloway are all fine role players at times. But none of them possess the tools to take on more responsibility.
OKC’s loss to the Hawks was a good example of why having Oladipo out can hurt. Without Oladipo on the floor, it was just a matter of the Hawks finding a mismatch. Oladipo is so key to OKC’s clutch lineup versatility. Luckily, the Pelicans really don’t have the offensive tools to hurt OKC by finding mismatches.
The Thunder boast one win and no losses against the Pelicans so far this season. OKC’s victory came at home back on December 4th, and was by a 9 point margin. Most memorable about that encounter was the Pelicans’ complete lack of a bench big, which allowed Kanter to stampede his way to 17 points. If OKC could just give some of Oladipo’s shots to Adams this time around, I’m sure it will be an easy victory.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 101, New Orleans Pelicans 87.
Injuries: Victor Oladipo (Out), Cameron Payne (Out), Quincy Pondexter (Out)
Time: 7:00 PM
Place: The Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana
TV: FSNO, FSOK