The New Orleans Pelicans (8-8) will look to put a stop to their two-game losing streak by getting a win Monday evening over the Oklahoma City Thunder (7-8), a team they’ve only beaten once out of seven tries during the Alvin Gentry era.
The Thunder are led by Russell Westbrook, but following a season where he broke the NBA single-season triple-double record, the current MVP no longer has to try and do everything himself. Over the offseason, Sam Presti brought both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to the Sooner State.
Similar to the Heatles when they first assembled in Miami, OKC’s star-studded lineup has struggled out of the gates. Although the Thunder have the league’s fifth best net rating, their record sits under .500 because road wins have been quite elusive. Sporting just a 2-6 record away from friendly confines, it’s apparent the three high usage offensive players are still searching to establish that winning chemistry.
Speaking of righting a listing ship, the Pelicans must attempt to bounce back from their dreadful performance against the Denver Nuggets, where they gave up 146 points — the highest total scored by any team so far this season.
Three Keys to Victory (Back to Basics edition)
Exhibit tons of energy. Whether Davis is able to go or not, the Pelicans need to rebound in the biggest way possible from their lackluster effort in Denver. The first step in getting back on track involves just showing up with lots and lots of intensity. A hiccup over the course of 82 games is manageable, being out-classed in consecutive games is cause for incredible alarm.
Avoid frustration and shut down the role players. Stars get calls and with the Thunder possessing three of them, they’re bound to get the benefit of a lot of whistles. First, the Pelicans cannot allow for much frustration to creep in and have it domino into several disappointing stretches. And second, OKC role players must be kept under wraps. Remember Alex Abrines and his hot shooting last season? Yeah, none of that please!
Do It Big. The Thunder’s strength obviously lies on their wings, and for the Pelicans, in the paint. Conceivably, Monday’s victor could come down to who utilizes their advantages the best. If DeMarcus Cousins and (hopefully) Davis can dominate Steven Adams and the expected cast of characters who try and slow down The Brow, New Orleans should have a legitimate chance to beat a very good team.
What: New Orleans Pelicans vs Oklahoma City Thunder
Where: Smoothie King Center
When: November 20, 2017, 7:00 PM Central
How: FSNO, WRNO 99.5 FM