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Oklahoma City Thunder (57-21) vs New Orleans Pelicans (32-46) preview

Current Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (56-21), New Orleans Pelicans (32-46)

Last time they met: Oklahoma City Thunder (109) defeated New Orleans Pelicans (95). Thunder lead the regular season series 1-0.

Preview:

This is going to be a very tough ask for the New Orleans Pelicans now that most of their team are sidelines with injury. The Oklahoma City Thunder play the Pelicans twice in the last four games of the season and stars Anthony Davis, JRue Holiday and Eric Gordon will miss both of them. While games like this provide opportunities for players like Brian Roberts, Tyreke Evans, Anthony Morrow and Jeff Withey to get quality minutes and play a meaningful role, it’s not going to be an easy task to slow down the Thunder who are rolling after a key win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

In a stark contrast to their opponents, the Thunder welcomed back Thabo Sefolosha, Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins to the starting lineup – the first time since mid-February that OKC were able to roll out a full strength starting five. Everyone played their role in the defeat of the Clippers and Westbrook especially was in spectacular form. His minutes and game time will still be managed and he may even be held out of this game in order to be ready for the Indiana Pacers clash, or they might want to keep him in rhythm and in form going in to that clash.

Upsets happen in sports, but it is unlikely to be the case in this one. The Thunder should be working on games like these to develop their defensive intensity and cohesiveness ahead of the playoffs. They will still need to focus on this one and take it a game at a time, but expect Durant to bounce back from a poor shooting night, and for the reserves to close it out. Brooks would do well to get more minutes into Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones and Steven Adams ahead of the playoffs.

Prediction: Thunder 119, Pelicans 89.

Tags: Oklahoma City Thunder

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