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The Bird Calls Podcast Ep. 83: Help is on the way for Pelicans, but will Nikola Mirotic arrive in time for Thunder matchup?

Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Melo will be on the second night of a back-to-back. Large enough of a window?

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans made headlines with Adrian Wojnarowski’s latest bomb on Thursday afternoon.

New Orleans fans were ecstatic with the return, and a collective sigh of relief washed across Pelican nation, as two roster spots appeared when the team needed them most. It remains to be seen who joins Nikola Mirotic as a newcomer, but the hope is Greg Monroe will fill one of the open spots.

However, the immediate problem is that the Pelicans now find themselves dangerously thin in advance of a meeting with the red-hot Oklahoma City Thunder. The Pelicans just shipped out Tony Allen, Jameer Nelson and Omer Asik. Until Mirotic is ready to play, the Pelicans look like this.

PG: Rondo, Clark, James

SG: Holiday, Cooke

SF: Moore, Miller

PF: Cunningham

C: Davis, Diallo

Yikes.

Before Tuesday night’s collapse against the Wizards, the Thunder were riding an eight-game win streak, sitting pretty at 30-21. The Wolves have more wins at 32, but more losses at 22. With wins against the Nuggets and Pels on Thursday and Friday, OKC could find themselves in the fourth seed before the upcoming weekend.

Let’s hope that Russell Westbrook and Paul George are going to be tired, though. The Pelicans, with two days off, should be well rested, but on the second night of a back to back, the Thunder may lack zest after a hopefully grueling stop in Denver. In addition, the Thunder will have played in five different time zones in their previous five matchups.

Finally, the Thunder suffered their own major setback this weekend. They lost their best defensive stopper on the wing, Andre Roberson, to a ruptured patella tendon. Terrence Ferguson will likely start in his place.

Before thinking the Pelicans are catching the Thunder at a good time, they will have their hands full with the reigning MVP and All-Star Russell Westbrook, All-Star Paul George (Boogie’s spot), three-time Gold Medalist Carmelo Anthony, and Steven Adams, who is celebrating quite possibly the best season of his career. Effort will not be in short supply for Westbrook and his guys.

The Thunder are fourth in defense, fifth in fast break points, fourth in rebounding and third in opponents points in the paint per game. However, the Thunder suffer from their own third quarter woes this season, dropping from ninth in scoring in the first half to 20th in the second. Likewise, they are sixth defensively in the first half, but 15th in the third quarter.

The Pelicans have to stop the skid before they find themselves fall to far behind to recover. Help is coming, but will it be too late?

Join Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman, the former Locked on Pelicans host and The Advocate writer, as he discusses everything discussed here and much more.

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