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Thunder vs Pelicans, pre-season game 2 preview

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The Thunder head into game 2 looking to build further chemistry with their two new stars.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (0-1) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (0-1)

  • Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Date: October 6
  • Time: 8:00 PM EDT

The Oklahoma City Thunder welcome the New Orleans Pelicans in pre-season game #2. A year ago, OKC faced NOLA four times and swept the regular season series.

Day by day, game by game, the Thunder are working toward gaining chemistry with their new core. Even if the Thunder outcome is a loss tonight, they are still progressing because they have to learn to play together.

The Thunder lost their first preseason game to the Houston Rockets, but the fans got a chance to see Carmelo Anthony and Paul George on the court together.

Unlike last year, there will be no questions about scoring. Anthony got himself in a nice groove on Tuesday by scoring 19 points on 54 percent shooting, while George added 15 points.

Players and Billy Donovan is optimistic that While Russell Westbrook plays today, but it's up to the doctor. If Westbrook sits, Raymond Felton needs to defend the Pelicans’ quarterback, Rajon Rondo. Defending Rondo isn’t like defending most guards because he doesn’t shoot a ton, but his passing ability and to get everybody involved is his strength. Felton needs to keep his hands up and close those passing lanes.

Even as the Thunder’s bench is a work in progress, the Pelicans bench had a hard time stretching leads as well last year. New Orleans ranked 21st in bench points differential a year ago. Over the offseason, the Pelicans added Ian Clark and extended E’Twaun Moore’s contract to bring more scoring punch. NOLA didn’t have problems looking for scoring in their first preseason game, as Moore dropped 16 points off the bench, and Clark added an efficient 10 points.

Injury Report:

Patrick Patterson is out

Russell Westbrook participated in practice today his status is "Likely To Play"

Three Keys To Watch:

  1. Melo Defense: Anthony a recognized scorer in the NBA, but in this game Melo will be ask to defend Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins for stretches. Cousins and Davis represent two of the league’s fiercest big men, so head coach Billy Donovan will have a chance to see a true test on the defensive side for Melo.
  2. Second Unit, Second Unit: This is nothing new. Oklahoma City’s bench has not been pleasant to watch because of the lack of shooters and lack of great athletic wing depth. In order to win this preseason game, the second unit have to out work NOLA bench.
  3. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, Part 2: Watching George and Anthony find their chemistry on a game by game basis will be fun to watch. However, it’s not going to be a fun game plan for the opponents. Last game, both players combined for 34 points in 35 minutes.

Big Questions of The Night:

How will ball distribution look if Russell Westbrook plays tonight?

Fun Note:

The Thunder-Rockets game had the network’s highest-rated preseason telecast since 2011, by an average of 343,00 viewers on NBA TV.

Prediction:

The Thunder have a better all-around starting lineup, but the Pelicans have an edge when it comes down to the bench. If the Pelicans can use their size inside, they might have a chance to run away with this game because of their second unit.

109-104, Pelicans win.

Poll

Who will win tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 90%
    Thunder
    (172 votes)
  • 9%
    Pelicans
    (18 votes)
190 votes total Vote Now