The New Orleans Pelicans vs. The Oklahoma City Thunder

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Published: February 25, 2016

The OKC Thunder are traveling south tonight to take on our Pelicans. The game will be on TNT so no Joel Meyers or David Wesley, which is sad, but I think AD will want to put up 60 in front of a national audience. That’ll be fun, right? Hey, we can always dream.

Anyway, the Thunder are really good. In fact, they have been absurdly good this year, but unfortunately for them, being absurdly good this year only gets you 3rd or 4th best team in the league, because Golden State and San Antonio are historically good.

Nevertheless, the Thunder are good, and they will probably be a bit better tonight than they have been as defensive ace Andre Roberson looks to make his second start after missing some time due to injury. Other than that, the Thunder are pretty much healthy and dominant. So it may be good to calibrate your expectations going into this one. I know a lot of us will be watching, because it is a big game. But, here’s the thing. The Thunder are better than the Pelicans. They will probably win. That doesn’t mean you can’t hope the Pelicans win, but it does mean that we shouldn’t be surprised if Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook look like two top 5 players and take over the game.

There are still some great match-ups to keep an eye on in this game, and even though the Pelicans are clearly overmatched, there is always something what to watch for.

What to Watch for

  • Jrue Holiday  – Jrue has been in the news a bit recently due to his performance and new role off the bench. I wrote about some of that earlier today. Take a look at it. Also, keep an eye on how he plays against Westbrook and how many minutes he gets with AD. I’ll say it again, building chemistry between AD and Jrue Holiday should be the main objective for the rest of the year.
  • Anthony Davis – He followed one of the best games of his career with a really disappointing performance against the Wizards. I’ll be watching for his role on offense. Is he starting things, or is he finishing possessions from missed shots? I’m also interested to see how he manages the double teams tonight. Learning to handle all the defensive attention that comes with being the best player on the floor is a big key for his development.
  • Centers – The Thunder have a couple of them, while the Pelicans are stretched thin with Asik out. It will be interesting to see how Gentry manages the rotations here. Does he let AD get more time at center, or does Perkins get pressed into action? Either way, the Pelicans are at a bit of a disadvantage.
  • Russell Westbrook/Kevin Durant – Really the Pelicans don’t have a great matchup for either of these guys. Recently, Westbrook has killed us. He is averaging 39.8 points and 8.8 assists in his last four games against the Pelicans. It will be interesting to see if any of our players, especially those getting minutes due to injuries, will be able to accomplish anything against two of the best players in the world.
  • Ryan Anderson – He is better at home. I have no idea why, but he just is. Don’t believe me? At home, Ryno hits almost 43% of his 3 point attempts. On the road, he is only good for less than 33%. His +/- numbers also take a huge swing from +4.8 at home to -5.3 on the road. I always want to say this type of thing doesn’t matter, but the evidence seems clear that Anderson is a homebody. Let’s hope that trend continues, and he opens up things inside for AD and Jrue.
  • Asik – He is still hurt, but I want you to watch the middle of the paint tonight. That is, where Asik would be standing if he were playing. I bet you the Thunder get a lot more opportunities there than they would if he were playing. Asik started slow. He was injured, in bad shape, and recovering. But he has been incredibly valuable recently. Some of that value is better seen when he is not on the floor. Try to look for it tonight.

That’s it for me tonight, folks. After the game, 42 will have your game recap, and he will be managing the site twitter account.

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