The New Orleans Pelicans (6-12) will take on Oklahoma City Thunder (6-11) Friday night at Chesapeake Arena. The Pelicans will need to avoid an emotional let down after narrowly losing Wednesday’s much anticipated match up with the Los Angles Lakers. Fridays’ game will be the first of two consecutive matches between the conference rivals with the second meeting coming Sunday afternoon in the Smoothie King Center.
This game should be an opportunity for the Pelicans to get back in the win column. While the Thunder do present challenges in certain areas, New Orleans has the more talented roster.
Key To Victory
This game will be clash of styles. The Pelicans play at the 5th fastest pace in the NBA while OKC’s style is much slower, ranking 14th in pace. That pace is pretty customary for a team led by former New Orleans Hornet point guard Chris Paul. Whichever team can impose their style in this game will likely come out with the victory.
Jrue Holiday will draw the assignment to guard Chris Paul most of the night as Lonzo Ball remains unable to play due to a stomach virus. Holiday should make life pretty difficult for the the aging Paul. If Jrue can disrupt CP3’s game the Thunder will have a very difficult time scoring. However, if Paul is able to turn the clock back, the veteran guard is fully capable of taking advantage of New Orleans’ 27th ranked defense.
Another matchup to watch in this game will be the Pelicans front court versus OKC center Steven Adams. Currently, OKC only ranks 21st in rebounding percentage. However, when you consider that New Orleans ranks 26th in the same category, you can see how hotly contested the rebounding battle will be. Derrick Favors has already been ruled out so only Jahlil Okafor remains able to handle the size of Steven Adams. New Orleans will have to be vigilant about keeping Oklahoma’s massive center from dominating the boards so should Jaxson Hayes minutes be curtailed? Then again, the best way to keep Adams off the boards may be to keep him off the floor. If the Pelicans can impose their break neck pace on the Thunder, OKC head coach Billy Donovan might be forced to tie Adams to bench for greater stretches than he would prefer in order to better matchup up with New Orleans ultra small lineups.
The turnover battle will also be key in this game. The Pelicans have turned the ball over all too often this season, ranking 20th in turnover percentage. OKC isn’t much better placing 15th in giveaways. Whichever team can limit the amount of free possessions they give their opponent in the form of turnovers will have a serious edge in bring home the win.
Oklahoma City is expected to have most of their weapons for the Friday’s game. Guard Hamidou Diallo is day to day with an elbow injury and forward Andre Roberson is out indefinitely with a knee injury.
New Orleans center Derrick Favors is expected to miss Friday’s game after the death of miss mother. Life sometimes has a way of showing us how little sports truly matter. Let’s all send well wishes to the Favors family after such an unimaginable tough week.
As mentioned earlier, Lonzo Ball is listed as out (stomach virus).
Rounding out the injury report are Zion Williamson, who is expected back at some point in December, and forward Darius Miller, who is out for the season as he continues to rehab from a torn Achilles.
Where To Watch/Listen
What: New Orleans Pelicans (6-12) at Oklahoma City Thunder (6-11)
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena
When: Friday, November 29, 2019 7:00 PM CDT.
How: NBA TV, FSNO