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The Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans will compete in a one-off elimination game to compete for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The New Orleans Pelicans finished the season ninth in the West, with a 42-40 overall record and a 27-14 home record. The Oklahoma City Thunder were 10th with a 40-42 overall record but a 16-25 road record.
The New Orleans Pelicans dominated the regular season matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder, 3-1. However, the Thunder won their final matchup with the Pelicans this season, 110-96. Hosted at Smoothie Kings Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Pelicans will hold a home-court advantage for this game.
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|Oklahoma City Thunder||Head-to-Head||New Orleans Pelicans|
|Mark Daigneault||Head Coach||Willie Green|
|40-42 (10th in West)||Standing||42-40 (10th in West)|
|114.2 (16th of 30)||Off Rtg||113.8 (20th of 30)|
|113.2 (13th of 30)||Def Rtg||112.0 (6th of 30)|
|101.9 (3rd of 30)||Pace||99.5 (16th of 30)|
Leaders (Per Game)
|S. Gilgeous-Alexander (31.4)||PPG||Z. Williamson (26.0)|
|J. Giddey (7.9)||RPG||J. Valanciunas (10.2)|
|J. Giddey (6.2)||APG||B. Ingram (5.8)|
|S. Gilgeous-Alexander (1.6)||SPG||H. Jones (1.6)|
|A. Pokusevski (1.3)||BPG||J. Valanciunas (0.7)|
|J. Williams (.521)/S. Gilgeous-Alexander (10.4)||FG%/FGM||L. Nance Jr. (.610)/Z. Williamson (9.8)|
|I. Joe (.409)/I. Joe (2.2)||3P%/3PM||K. Lewis Jr. (.455)/C. McCollum (2.9)|
|Chet Holmgren||Oklahoma City Thunder||17 Feb 2023||Out (Foot)||Holmgren is not expected to return to the court this season.|
|Kenrich Williams||Oklahoma City Thunder||02 Mar 2023||Out (Wrist)||Williams suffered a ligament rupture in his wrist and there is no timetable for his return.|
|E.J. Liddell||New Orleans Pelicans||03 Jan 2023||Out (Knee)||There is no timetable for Liddell's return.|
|Jose Alvarado||New Orleans Pelicans||22 Mar 2023||Out (Tibia)||Alvarado will be re-examined at a later date, most recently playing on Feb 27.|
|Zion Williamson||New Orleans Pelicans||06 Apr 2023||Out (Hamstring)||There is no timetable for Williamsons' return.|
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Oklahoma City Thunder ATS Record: 45-34-3
New Orleans Pelicans ATS Record: 39-41-2
The New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder will compete in an elimination Play-In game to decide who will progress for the privilege of competing for the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The Oklahoma City Thunder finished the season tenth in the West with a 40-42 overall record and a 16-25 road record. The New Orleans Pelicans ended the regular season ninth in the West, with a 42-40 overall record and a solid 27-14 home record.
The Oklahoma City Thunder shocked teams with the pace and energy on both ends, averaging 117.5 points per game (5th in the NBA) while forcing 16.8 turnovers (1st in the NBA). The Thunder struggled offensively against the Pelicans this season, scoring just 109.0 points per game on 42.9% from the field and 32.1% from three-point range.
The New Orleans Pelicans may have struggled through the second half of the NBA season, but their trademark defense, which allows just 112.5 points per game (9th in the NBA) while limiting teams to just 41.8 rebounds (5th in the NBA) and 33.9% efficiency from three (1st in the NBA), remains their crucial threat. On the offensive side of the ball, the Pelicans need to be more responsible, as they averaged 16.0 turnovers per game through four meetings with the Thunder.
The Thunder and the Pelicans are set for a competitive game when they face off on Wednesday night. The quality of the offense when these teams match up is low, but in a season-defining game, the stars will define the outcome. The Pelicans should come out as the winner with a veteran roster led by an in-form and healthy Brandon Ingram.
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Look no further than Canadian star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander when considering the Oklahoma City Thunder's chances. He averaged 31.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.5 assists on 51.0% from the field and 34.5% from the three-point range. The Pelicans were one of Gilgeous-Alexander's favorite teams to play this season, averaging 33.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 4.3 assists on 45.7% from the field through four games. With an inexperienced roster and a definite mismatch in the paint, Gilgeous-Alexander needs to maintain his regular season production to push his Thunder to the next match of the Play-In Tournament.
Brandon Ingram may have only played 45 games this season, but he put up impressive averages of 24.7 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.5 rebounds on 48.4% from the field and 39.0% from three-point range. In Ingram's last 14 games to close the regular season, he posted averages of 28.6 points, 8.1 assists, and 6.6 rebounds on 51.1% from the field and 38.1% from three. When Ingram is engaged, the Pelicans perform at their best, and the Thunder doesn't have one player that can limit his game.
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The New Orleans Pelicans and the Oklahoma City Thunder are two of the league's more offensively-focused teams, but against each other, they've presented a more defensive battle. The Pelicans combine for 226.9 points per game on a plus-1.9 differential. The Thunder average a combined 233.9 points per game on a plus-1.1 differential.
To close out their last ten games of the season, the Thunder averaged a combined 234.5 points despite shooting just 45.4% from the field and 32.8% from three. In Oklahoma City's last ten games, they averaged a combined 225.8 points per game, shooting 49.0% from the field and 42.5% from deep. The Pelicans cleared 226.5 points in four of their final ten games, while the Thunder did so in seven of ten.
Through their four meetings, the Thunder and Pelicans combined for 217.0 points per game while clearing 226.5 just once. Given these teams' ability to match up similarly in the athleticism department, the pace doesn't project to be a defining factor in this game. Take the under, as the star quality of both teams in the half-court will define the game.
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
Email: [email protected]More info on Christian Jope
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