Valentine’s Day will be all too sweet, with a Western Conference showdown that features the Oklahoma City Thunder (37-19, 3rd in the West) traveling to the Smoothie King Center to face the New Orleans Pelicans (25-33, 13th in the West).
For the Thunder, they come into this one having won four games in a row and eleven of their last twelve games. Between Russell Westbrook and Paul George, the Thunder are rolling and will look to take down a Pelicans team that seems to be in disarray. For the Pelicans, they have lost two in a row and five of their last seven matchups. Anthony Davis remains on the team, but the deadline saw others get moved, including Nikola Mirotic. Playing for a draft position and to trade Davis this offseason, the Pelicans don’t seem overly motivated. Still, the two will matchup on Thursday with tipoff scheduled for 8:00 pm ET.
In this contest, the Oklahoma City Thunder come in as 3.5-point favorites despite playing on the road. The over/under for this game is set at 237 points.
By The Numbers
Despite the records, when it comes to the offense, it is the Pelicans that have been a little better offensively. When you look at adjusted offensive rating, which estimates the points scored per 100 possessions while also taking into account opponents’ defense, the Pelicans rank 8th in the league with 113.41 points. For the Thunder, they come in at 16th with 110.60 points.
On the defensive side, it is all Oklahoma City. The Thunder rank 4th in the league with an adjusted defensive rating of just 105.98 points. For the Pelicans, they tumble down the rankings to 23rd, with an adjusted defensive rating of 112.56 points.
Thunder Look To Keep Momentum Going
Sitting only 4 games behind the first place Warriors and just 1.5 games behind the Nuggets, the Thunder would love to keep the pressure on the top two teams and try to move up the standings. To do so, though, they will need to continue playing stellar defense while holding their own on the offensive side.
On the offensive side, it is a true two-headed monster in Paul George and Russell Westbrook. For George, he is averaging 28.7 points, 8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Paul George is ranked first in the league in steals with his cohort, Russell Westbrook, ranking second with 2.2 steals per game. The craziest part of Westbrook’s game, though, is the fact that he is averaging a triple-double. On the season, Westbrook is putting up 21.2 points, 11.1 rebounds and 11.2 assists per game. In fact, he just achieved the second all-time longest consecutive streak of triple-doubles, and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Outside of these two, Dennis Schroder (15.7 points), Steven Adams (14.9 points, 9.6 rebounds) and Jerami Grant (13.1 points, 5.1 rebounds) have all been major contributors.
Anthony Davis Continues To Show Why He Is A Wanted Man
It is without a doubt that Anthony Davis is one of the most talented ballplayers in the entire league. That is why several teams were interested in trading for him at the deadline. Even though a deal was never consummated, that doesn’t mean that teams won’t want him this offseason. Until then, though, Davis remains a Pelican and will continue to show why he is a force.
On the season, Davis is averaging 28.5 points and 13.1 rebounds per game. Both of those lead the team. He is also dishing out 4.3 assists, 1.6 steals, and 2.6 blocks per game. The 2.6 blocks rank second in the NBA, only trailing Indiana’s Myles Turner.
Outside of Davis, the other major contributors are Jrue Holiday (20.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 8 assists) and Julius Randle (19.9 points, 9.1 rebounds). The problem, though, is that this version of the Pelicans just doesn’t have much else in the way of depth or offensive weapons.
Valentine’s Day Shows Love To The Thunder
This is one of those games where the Pelicans will have the best player on the court in Davis, but it will be the Thunder who put out the best team. In addition to that, the Pelicans are not opposed to losing, hoping to increase their draft lottery chances, so it is not exactly like the Pelicans have a real sense of urgency. For the Thunder, they are dynamic as a team on the defensive side and have a dynamic duo on the offensive side. It wouldn’t shock me if it is somewhat close for a half, but ultimately, I see the Thunder pulling away in this one. For my money, I am taking Oklahoma City despite laying the 3.5 points.