Thunder vs Pelicans : Get a summary of the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New Orleans Pelicans basketball game. February 14 2019 Will the Thunder earn their 12th win in 13 games as they visit the Pelicans in a Western Conference clash at the Smoothie King Center onThursday night.
Thunder vs Pelicans Live Stream : How To Watch NBA Basketball 2019 Game Online Free HD TV Coverage
The Thunder’s defense has been in free fall recently- even on their current 3 game winning streak, the defense has been merely fine, not the elite level we’ve come to expect earlier in the season. You might expect an AD-less New Orleans offense to be a pushover, but they’ve actually been okay- the team has an offensive rating of 111.1 across all minutes Davis plays, which is an above average, if not intimidating, mark. And that makes sense. Even without Davis, the Pelicans have an All-Star level guard in Jrue Holiday. They have Elfrid Payton, who’s played quite well when healthy this year.
OKC will need to take this team seriously and build off their strong defensive performance against Portland. If they do that, they should handle the Pelicans.
If the defense is again lacking, however, OKC will need to win on the strength of it’s offense. Their offense, which has been mediocre to average all season, has been quite good since their embarrassing loss in Washington two weeks ago, a fact that’s been overshadowed by their dismal defense.
Russell Westbrook has yet to rediscover his shot, but he’s leaned into more of a facilitator role (by Russ standards), and his team has come through. Paul George has been a monster, continuing to force his way into the MVP conversation. Terrance Ferguson has hit 50% of his 3’s in January. Steven Adams has been a little quiet, taking nearly 2 less shots per game than he did to start the season (those extra Ferguson 3’s had to come from somewhere), but he’s hitting the shots he gets. The Thunder do have the power to win a shootout.
But it’ll be a lot easier if they can lock down defensively, particularly during the 2nd quarter where OKC is often surrendering leads. That shouldn’t be too much to ask against a sub-.500 team playing without it’s star player.
In some locker rooms around the NBA, eyes are starting to wander towards the calendar, specifically Friday Feb. 15. Airline tickets are being booked, plans are being organized and for some, thoughts are drifting towards a well-earned break. While the Thunder will embrace this weekend’s All-Star Break and are thrilled that three members of the team are representing Oklahoma City in Charlotte, the Thunder’s eyes are still on the prize.
At 37-19, in a stretch of wins in 11 of the past 12 games, the Thunder is firing on all cylinders and has one more test to take before the break begins. On the road against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Thunder must bring its A game and maintain its steely focus to get up to a season-best 19 games above .500, for a .667 winning percentage.
“It’s important that we take care of the game,” said Russell Westbrook. “You just gotta take care of business.”
“Every game against a Western team is a playoff game. That’s how we look at things,” said guard Terrance Ferguson.
Head Coach Billy Donovan’s club has won in a variety of ways this season, with victories coming through high-octane offense, disruptive defense and some gut-check playmaking. After having a bit of a lull, the Thunder’s defense has come back in full force against Western Conference foes over the past week, with wins against Memphis, Houston and Portland all coming as a result of stout, coordinated defensive efforts.
“They do a really good job of reading the game, and what’s going on in the game, and how they have to play to impact the outcome of the game,” said Donovan. “There’s not one cookie-cutter way every night that’s going to be the way that you win. There’s a system, and a style, and an identity that I think we have to play to for us to win.”
“It’s just more intensity, attention to detail and just discipline, meaning just doing all the small things over and over again,” added Steven Adams. “Even though you feel like it doesn’t make a difference, it makes a huge impact on the outcome.”
“Their ones come to more stopping the ball early and then also just the rotations on the back side from rolls or cutters and whatnot,” said Adams. “They love to cut, this team, and old mate (Jrue) Holiday is really good at probing, getting to his spot and his pace is really good.”
Fortunately for the Thunder, there’s a two-way player on its roster than has the NBA buzzing about potential MVP recognition. Paul George is now up to 28.7 points per game on 45.4 percent shooting, including 41.3 percent on an incredible 9.5 attempts per game. That’s not to mention that George is racking up 8.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists and a league-leading 2.3 steals per game this year.
All season long, George has provided an incredible boost to the Thunder’s on-court outcomes as he has a plus-10.8 net rating this season, meaning that the Thunder outscores its opponents by 10.8 points per 100 possessions that George is on the floor.
“(Westbrook) sets the boundaries the second the game starts off that we’re coming after you,” said George. “Everybody else just has to get in line and follow his lead. He’s going to come out and he’s going to set the standard that we’re coming. That we’re not messing around.”
– Jerami Grant (ankle) and Dennis Schröder (personal – birth of child) both did not practice on Wednesday before the team left for New Orleans. Their statuses for the Pelicans game are uncertain. One of the players who has thrived off of the Thunder’s brotherhood culture and stepped up when Grant and Schröder were unable to go on Monday was Deonte Burton. The rookie two-way player racked up 18 points against Portland and didn’t hesitate to fire up shots or attack the paint when he was open. Against the Pelicans, he’ll have to continue to defend at a high level as well, both on the ball and as a help-side rim protector.