The New Orleans Pelicans and OKC Thunder will end their season series at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday. The teams split the first two games, which were played in January. The road team won on each occasion.
The OKC Thunder had a thrilling win on Tuesday after they defeated the Boston Celtics 119-115, snapping a 14-game losing streak that began on April 2. They could end the month on a winning note if they defeat the New Orleans Pelicans tonight.
The New Orleans Pelicans are probably still fuming after a no-call against Nikola Jokic cost them the game versus the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. With less than three seconds to go and the Denver Nuggets ahead 114-112, Zion Williamson was fouled on a dunk attempt. Jokic hit the 6-foot-7 forward hard on the arm, but none of the officials saw the contact, leading to a no-call. The New Orleans Pelicans eventually lost the game.
Fixture - New Orleans Pelicans vs OKC Thunder | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Thursday, April 29th, 9:00 PM ET (Friday, April 30th, 6:30 AM IST)
Venue - Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
New Orleans Pelicans Preview
The New Orleans Pelicans’ playoff dreams are slowly fading. With only ten games remaining on their schedule and a 27-35 record in the West (11th), each loss stings harder than the last. Despite an impressive 120-103 win over the LA Clippers on Monday, the Pelicans came out flat against the Nuggets.
They played catch-up for most of Wednesday's encounter, which was the primary reason for their defeat. Defense remains the central issue for the New Orleans Pelicans, even with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson on the roster. However, they will have to forget about Wednesday's loss and focus on the OKC Thunder. Taking OKC for granted could lead to the Pelicans staring at a two-game losing streak at the end of the game.
Key Player - Zion Williamson
The Nuggets game will haunt Zion Williamson for a while. The first-time All-Star should have been given free throws near the end of the encounter. Superstar players usually receive those calls, especially if they had been fouled as clearly as Zion was. Moreover, he missed a golden opportunity to tie the game at the line and give the New Orleans Pelicans a chance to win the game.
He scored 21 points but grabbed only two rebounds and had no assists in 31 minutes. The Nuggets' Aaron Gordon and Paul Millsap kept him frustrated, forcing the second-year forward into a poor performance.
When they meet the OKC Thunder, Williamson will have to contend with the interior defense of Darius Bazley and Moses Brown.
New Orleans Pelicans Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Lonzo Ball l Shooting Guard - Eric Bledsoe l Small Forward - Brandon Ingram l Power Forward - Zion Williamson l Center - Willy Hernangomez
OKC Thunder Preview
The OKC Thunder didn't want to extend their losing record and put away the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on Tuesday. They were led by Luguentz Dort and Darius Bazley, who had 24 and 21 points, respectively.
The aggressive and highly competitive OKC Thunder can't finish games consistently, but they were able to do so against the Celtics, who were missing Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. If the New Orleans Pelicans don't bring their A-game on Thursday, the OKC Thunder will find a way to dismiss them in similar fashion.
Key Player - Darius Bazley
Aside from scoring 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field in Tuesday's win over the Celtics, Darius Bazley also added 10 rebounds, four assists and a block in 38 minutes of game time. The 20-year-old is developing into a terrific two-way threat and has become one of the most reliable players on the OKC Thunder.
He has scored 20 or more points in five of their last eight games, including back-to-back outings with 26 points. He will be a handful for the New Orleans Pelicans because of his activity and tenacity on the glass.
OKC Thunder Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Theo Maledon l Shooting Guard - Luguentz Dort l Small Forward - Aleksej Pokusevski l Power Forward - Darius Bazley l Center - Moses Brown
Pelicans vs Thunder Match Prediction
The New Orleans Pelicans come into enemy territory after a loss on the road. They hope to shake off their recent disappointment and focus on the job at hand. Against an overachieving squad like the OKC Thunder, the result will largely depend on the squad's resiliency. Coach Stan Van Gundy should be able to help in this area.
They've been battling inconsistency throughout the season, but the New Orleans Pelicans know they are in a desperate situation to keep their playoff hopes alive. The team should be able to pull out a close win against the OKC Thunder.