The New Orleans Pelicans go on the road to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night in the NBA. In one of the last games of 2020, the Pelicans are hoping that New Year’s Eve ends up becoming a happy one as they look to rebound from a lopsided loss to the Phoenix Suns.
The Thunder, on the other hand, will have to fight and claw their way to victory if they wish to usher in the new year on a high note. They have several young players who are learning the ropes but are determined to win at all costs.
New Orleans Pelicans vs Oklahoma City Thunder: 3 Key matchups to look out for
The game features several young players with bright futures ahead of them. There are also some grizzled veterans on each team who can make a difference in the ballgame. Part of the beauty of the NBA is the game within the game, those particular matchups that require extra attention because of how crucial some of the individual battles are in determining the outcome of the game.
Check out our 3 key matchups in the face-off between the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder:
#1 Brandon Ingram vs. Isaiah Roby
It’s not every day that Brandon Ingram faces a player younger than him, but on this night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he’ll be up against 22-year-old Isaiah Roby.
Roby played his first game of the season when they faced the Orlando Magic on Tuesday and he delivered big time. His 19 points in the game were the first points of his NBA career after going scoreless three previous times last season.
Facing Ingram will be a big test for him and based on his performance versus the Magic, Roby is ready for the challenge.
Ingram won’t take it easy on the Oklahoma City Thunder forward and this is an opportunity to light up the scoreboard facing a wide-eyed young player. Ingram is an automatic 20 PPG scorer (23.3 this season) for the New Orleans Pelicans and he will take the kid to school every chance he gets.
#2 Zion Williamson vs. Darius Bazley
The New Orleans Pelicans found gold when they drafted Zion Williamson, who is every bit the player that they hoped he would be and he’s still scratching the surface of his enormous potential. After four games this season, Williamson is scoring 21.3 points and grabbing 9.3 rebounds a game.
He’ll be a tough matchup for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Darius Bazley
Bazley is averaging 10.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game for the Thunder. Weighing only 208 pounds, he will have his hands full guarding the 284-pound Williamson.
#3 Lonzo Ball vs Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
In his fourth season, Lonzo Ball still seems to be unsure of his shot, whether from the field or from the line (which he has improved on quite a bit). His stats are just about the same as his first three years with few signs that he’s improving.
But as a defender, Ball is as good as they come. His 2.0 steals per game is a career-high. Against Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, he will have to be on his toes defensively because the Oklahoma City Thunder guard is the head of the snake.
The 22-year-old Gilgeous-Alexander is showing maturity beyond his years after the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise was handed to him this season. His averages of 23.3 points and 7.7 assists per game are career-highs and he shows no signs of slowing down.Published 01 Jan 2021, 02:41 IST