Following its matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, the Thunder had two days between contests to reset and refocus before its next challenge against the New Orleans Pelicans. Wednesday’s match marks the second meeting between the Thunder and the Pelicans this season as OKC escaped the Big Easy with a win back in November.
What to Watch
48-Minute Mentality In its last meeting against the Pelicans, the Thunder fought to maintain a double-digit lead that was put in jeopardy in the fourth quarter. New Orleans, behind the 22-point fourth frame effort of Nickeil Alexander Walker, threw a massive fourth quarter punch to shave OKC’s double-digit lead to just five points. Look for OKC to demonstrate its 48-minute mentality by emphasizing a solid start and finishing strong.
“That’s a major thing the coaches have been emphasizing,” said Thunder wing Kenrich Williams. “Starting off strong and finishing strong for a full 48 minutes.”
Flying to the Paint All roads lead to the paint between the Thunder and the Pelicans as both teams average around 44 percent of their total points from the lane – both top 10 marks in the league. Pelicans’ center Jonas Valanciunas leads the league in total paint points this season as New Orleans has tallied the most total layup attempts in the league. On the other end, expect the Thunder to prioritize its downhill attack after logging an uncharacteristic 20 points in the paint on Sunday against the Mavericks.
Limiting Ingram While Wednesday’s game marks the second matchup of the season between the Thunder and the Pelicans, it will be the first meeting for OKC against New Orleans’ leading scorer Brandon Ingram who was out with injury in OKC’s November meeting. Ingram averages 23 points per contest while also dishing out a team-high five assists. Keep an eye on how the Thunder defense works to limit Ingram’s playmaking ability on Wednesday.
In its game against Dallas on Sunday, the Thunder allowed zero fast break points for the Mavericks. The effort marked the third time this season where OKC held its opponent to zero points on the break which ties for the most by any team in the league over the last ten seasons. Overall, the Thunder is second in the league in opponent fast break points allowed per game as the team gives up just 8.8 on average.
Kenrich Williams on the benefit of two days between games… “It’s pretty good to get a little break. It gets us a chance to kind of regroup, take a day off, mentally get that reset and just kind of look forward to the next game and game plan as well.”
Coach Daigneault on the mood of Tuesday’s practice… “I thought the guys came in with a sense of purpose and a level of hunger that we obviously hope carries over to the game tomorrow, but the type of hunger and motivation that we would expect to see coming off a couple tough games where we weren’t at our best.”
New Orleans (8-21) enters Oklahoma City well rested after a pair of days to rest following its loss to San Antonio on Sunday. Ingram led the Pels in scoring against the Spurs with 27 points to go alongside nine assists and seven rebounds. Valanciunas chipped in a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds. New Orleans’ starting backcourt consists of Josh Hart and Devonte’ Graham who combine for 24 points and eight assists per contest.