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Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New Orleans Pelicans game preview, odds, and prediction

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Oklahoma City looks to continue its seasonal dominance against New Orleans tonight

Bennett Berry

The Oklahoma City Thunder look to break even tonight following an arduous six-game road trip vs. a gutsy New Orleans Pelicans squad.

Oklahoma City hasn’t graced its home floor competitively since defeating Memphis Jan. 11. During this stretch, predictably, OKC's fortunes have fluctuated, with the team suffering myriad difficulties before rising Monday opposite Utah.

As the Thunder overcame woeful third-quarter shooting to triumph against the Jazz, Russell Westbrook amassed triple-double #22.

Further, the freshly re-instated Steven Adams added grit and vast intangible value to seal Monday's 97-95 road win.

Similarly, New Orleans recently upset Cleveland, 124-122, without superstar Anthony Davis.

Sans Davis and Tyreke Evans, the explosive tandem of Terrence Jones (36) and Jrue Holiday contributed 69 points to withstand the Cavs’ 49-point eruption from Kyrie Irving — and triple-double from LeBron James.

While Evans is likely to miss the season's third meeting between OKC and NOP, Davis is expected to return for New Orleans.

Although, Oklahoma City holds a commanding 2-0 advantage vs. New Orleans, the Thunder cannot discount the upset potential presented by this Pelicans unit.

Russell Westbrook and company will require focused effort to fight off an inconsistent, yet dangerous Pelicans collective for a third-consecutive contest.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER KEYS TO VICTORY

  • Control the paint (OKC has outscored NOP in the paint 120-94 overall)
  • Attack the glass (The Thunder holds a dominant 108-85 rebounding advantage vs. NOP)
  • Fast-break control (Oklahoma City has outscored New Orleans 46-25 in transition)
  • Russell Westbrook must avoid a sub-par outing (Westbrook averages 35ppg, 13.5 rpg, and 9.5 apg vs. the Pelicans this season)
  • Bench Performance (Kanter, Abrines, and Lauvergne have each performed well in OKC’s two victories against NOP)

GAME INFORMATION

  • OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (26-19, #7 W.C.) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (18-27 #10 W.C.)
  • Time: 8 PM ET
  • Venue: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA.
  • TV: FS Oklahoma HD

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

Tonight may conclude OKC’s six-game road trek, but it also signifies the first of back-to-back contests for the gauntlet-tested Thunder. Oklahoma City will experience an immediate turnaround following tonight’s contest.

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

The Pelicans’ overall record is not aesthetically pleasing. However, this Anthony Davis-led iteration sits only a game and a half behind Denver for the Western Conference’s final playoff slot.

This should motivate New Orleans to perform with extra vigor vs. Oklahoma City.

STARTING LINEUPS/INJURY REPORTS

The Oklahoma City Thunder have no injuries to report. The New Orleans Pelicans list Tyreke Evans as day-to-day (ankle) and Anthony Davis (quad) as probable.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

  • POINT GUARD: Russell Westbrook
  • SHOOTING GUARD: Victor Oladipo
  • SMALL FORWARD: Andre Roberson
  • POWER FORWARD: Domantas Sabonis
  • CENTER: Steven Adams

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

  • Point Guard: Jrue Holiday
  • Shooting Guard: Buddy Hield
  • Small Forward: Dante Cunningham
  • Power Forward: Solomon Hill
  • Center: Anthony Davis/Terrence Jones

ODDS

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER -1.5

Both the Vegas bookmakers and our partners at numberFire list Oklahoma City as road favorites for tonight’s clash vs. New Orleans.

The key matchup for this evening’s contest is likely to be Steven Adams vs. Anthony Davis. Though Davis has put up monster numbers in losing efforts against OKC, Adams will still need to be physical while checking the versatile 23-year-old.

OKC is 11-13 in away contests. New Orleans is 12-12 at home this season.