Oklahoma City Thunder vs New Orleans Pelicans

Paul George leads the Oklahoma City Thunder against Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, February 14th 2019 at 8:00 PM EST at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA. Broadcast is available on TNT and Fox Sports Oklahoma; radio is available via WWLS 98.1FM OKC and WRNO 99.5FM.

How to Watch

Where: Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA

When: Thursday, February 14th at 8:00 PM EST

How (TV/Radio): TNT, Fox Sports Oklahoma | WWLS 98.1FM OKC, WRNO 99.5FM

Oklahoma City Thunder (Away)

Head Coach: Billy Donovan {All-Time 187-115 | OKC}

The Oklahoma City Thunder enter this match against the New Orleans Pelicans with a firm grasp on third in the Western Conference and are just a game back of the Denver Nuggets in second place. They currently have a record of 37-19.

The Thunder have been doing their utmost to overtake the Nuggets who are in second. Over their last ten the Thunder are 9-1 with impressive wins over the Sixers, Blazers, and Bucks.

The Pelicans shouldn't be a difficult team to handle for the Thunder considering they have been limiting Anthony Davis' playtime. The Pelicans are now in the mode to acquire a better lottery pick, but competitiveness usually wins out. The Pelicans are a team of good shooters and if Davis and Holiday go off it could be a long night for the Thunder.

New Orleans Pelicans (Home)

Head Coach: Alvin Gentry {All-Time 472-536 | MIA, DET, LAC, PHX, NOP}

The New Orleans Pelicans have been rocked by Anthony Davis' request to be traded from the New Orleans Pelicans. Once reasonably competitive, the Pelicans have fallen off and now hold a record of 25-32.

Since Davis' request the Pelicans have lost distinct competitiveness. They are 3-7 in their last ten matches and recently suffered an embarrassing 30 point loss to the Orlando Magic.

In that loss to the Magic Davis was 1-9 in 24 minutes. While that this statement is not meant to discredit the Magic's capable defence of late, Davis is clearly disinterested in New Orleans' future. They will be hard-pressed to defeat the Thunder with the same effort.

What's At Stake?

The Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans have a shared history due to the short-term relocation of the New Orleans Hornets during Hurricane Katrina. In the all-time series the Thunder lead the Pelicans 24-14.

A win for the Oklahoma City Thunder would bring them within a half game of the second spot in the Western Conference table.

A win for the Pelicans would draw them within half a game of the twelfth place Timberwolves.

Questions to answer

What has caused the recent defensive slide for the Thunder?

Is Jah for real?

We are going to compare the Oklahoma City Thunder and the New Orleans Pelicans in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

The Thunder Are 19th in Defensive Rating

Since the turn of the new year the Oklahoma City Thunder have almost swapped their identity from the beginning of the season. Once a defensive force with limited offensive options, they are now 8th in offensive rating and near the bottom third in defensive rating.

In terms of their offence, it is clear why the Thunder have improved. A change in offensive plan has allowed the Thunder to focus more on shooting from range with efficiency, rather than mid-range scoring like the first half of the season. While there are always trends to shooting, getting the ball into the hands of Ferguson, Patterson, and George from three is always a good sign.

Defensively the Thunder have chosen to sit back more often than they did in the early-season. Once gamble-heavy on the wing, the Thunder tend to allow teams into the paint in order to collapse on them and risk their shooting. While it has worked - especially with Steven Adams defending the rim - the sheer amount of shooting in today's NBA has punished the Thunder more often than not.

Okafor Is Primed to Lead the Pelicans

This is not the first time we've talked about Jahlil Okafor's ability for the Pelicans. The question is, was it just a flash in the pan performance or has he found his game? After he has been removed from the injury list, we will surely see more of Jah moving forward.

Okafor started for the Pelicans when Anthony Davis was sitting until the trade deadline. He performed incredibly, dropping 20 points and 10 rebounds against former defensive player of the year Marc Gasol.

Since then Okafor has been fantastic. He's averaged 18.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game since he began starting for the Pelicans. Due to injury precaution he was held out of the past two games, but came back to a solid if not impressive line in a blowout loss to the Magic. With Davis' future in question, Okafor has made it a point for the Pelicans to believe he is a piece worth building around.

Oklahoma City Thunder Roster Notes

F Jerami Grant - 10 Feb 2019 - Out (Ankle) - Grant has been ruled OUT for Monday's (Feb 11) game.

F Andre Roberson - 18 Jan 2019 - Out (Knee) - Head coach Billy Donovan said Roberson is rehabbing, but is not close to returning to action, according to Brett Dawson of The Athletic. The team is hopeful to have him back this season.

G Dennis Schroeder - 11 Feb 2019 - Out (Personal) - Schroder has been ruled OUT for Monday's (Feb 11) game.

New Orleans Pelicans Roster Notes

G Trevon Blueitt - 1 Feb 2019 - Out (Thumb) - The Pelicans announced that Bluiett had surgery to repair a ligament in his right thumb. There is no timetable for his return.

G Elfrid Payton - 11 Feb 2019 - Day To Day (Right Ankle Sprain) - Payton is listed as Questionable for Tuesday's (Feb 12) game.

Head-to-Head: Russell Westbrook (OKC) vs Jrue Holiday (NOP)

Russell Westbrook

Point Guard | 6-3, 200lb (190cm, 90kg) | UCLA | Exp. 10 Years

21.2 PPG | 11.2 APG | 11.1 RPG | 2.2 SPG | 0.4 BPG | 4.6 TOV | .412 FG% | .244 3P%

Jrue Holiday

Shooting Guard | 6-4, 205lb (193cm, 92kg) | UCLA | Exp. 9 Years

20.9 PPG | 8.0 APG | 5.1 RPG | 1.6 SPG | 0.8 BPG | 3.2 TOV | .471 FG% | .318 3P%

Two former UCLA Bruins and All-Stars face off in this match-up between the Pelicans and Thunder. Russell Westbrook is his usual incredible self while Jrue Holiday continues to produce for a team surrounded by dysfunction.

If there was ever an example of fans not appreciating what they've had for a long time, Russell Westbrook is on the verge of his third straight season averaging a triple-double and he is not starting in the All-Star Game. While he may take ill-advised shots and choose his time to make an effort on defence, Westbrook is a threat from anywhere on the court and is unlikely to be slowed down by anyone other than himself.

Jrue Holiday made it clear that a big reason why he stayed in New Orleans was for Anthony Davis. While the future is not clear for Holiday, he is still producing at an impressive rate, recently posting 27 points, 11 assists, and 6 rebounds in a win over the Timberwolves. Holiday will be tasked with marking Russell Westbrook, he will also be sure to make Westbrook work on the defensive end.

Oklahoma City Thunder at New Orleans Pelicans Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the Oklahoma City Thunder favoured over the New Orleans Pelicans by 4.5, with an over/under of 110.

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