Tip-Off: 7 PM CST
Location: Smoothie King Center (New Orleans, LA)
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
F-C Anthony Davis is expected to play tonight after missing the last game for the Pelicans against the Cleveland Cavaliers due to a quad strain. In 41 games this season, Davis is averaging 28.6 points (3rd in the NBA), 12.0 rebounds (7th in the NBA), and 2.4 blocks (3rd in the NBA). In his first two meetings against the Thunder this season, however, Davis performed well above his average numbers. In those two games, he averaged 35.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Davis is proficient on both ends of the floor, and the Thunder has really struggled to keep him in check so far, but with Steven Adams back from a concussion, he will be primed and ready for the challenge.
Keys to the Game
- Tempo and Transition: Oklahoma City and New Orleans are both good at scoring in transition. The Thunder ranks 3rd in the league with 17.6 fast break points per game, and the Pelicans rank 6th with 15.3 points per game. The difference between the two is that Oklahoma City is much better at transition defense. The Thunder ranks 3rd in opposing fast break points with 11.0 per game, while the Pelicans are 17th and allow 13.5 per game. In the first two games between the two, Oklahoma City dominated the transition game by an average of 23 to 12.5. If the Thunder are able to get out and run, they should come out on top.
- Down Low Domination: The Thunder continues to dominate in the paint by putting up 49.8 points per game, 2nd in the NBA. The Pelicans, on the other hand, are 17th in the league with 41.8 points in the paint per game. In the two games in December, Oklahoma City outscored the Pelicans down low by an average of 12 points per meeting, and with the way the Thunder big men have been playing in January, they should continue this trend tonight.
- Take Care of the Ball: Oklahoma City has struggled to take care of the ball this season, especially lately, committing at least 15 turnovers in five of their last six games. The Thunder averages 15.0 turnovers a game, but when they turn the ball over at a higher rate than that, they put themselves in a tough position. Oklahoma City has averaged 12.5 turnovers in two games against New Orleans, so they need to continue this downward trend, make good passes, and take care of the ball.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.