Two Western Conference playoff hopefuls have not gotten off the greatest starts this year.
The 1-4 New Orleans Pelicans and 1-4 Oklahoma City Thunder have taken different approaches to get their records, but they are both unfortunately in a place they don’t want to be. The Pelicans have struggled mightily on the defensive end of the floor, while the Thunder have been bad on the offensive end.
Both teams will attempt to shore up their weaknesses today in a Saturday afternoon game (5 p.m. ET). USAbetting previews the game below, as well as a couple of suggestions for how you should bet with our New Orleans Pelicans vs Oklahoma City Thunder predictions.
Is Thunder’s Perimeter Defense as Good as it Has Looked?
Despite OKC’s 1-4 start, the squad has been very solid on defense. Opponents have scored 102 points or fewer in four of their five games so far, which is actually a very low score for a team in today’s NBA.
The Thunder defense has been particularly stingy on the perimeter, led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chris Paul. Opponents are shooting a measly 27.7 percent on three-point attempts, which is a big deal because of how much NBA teams shoot from downtown nowadays. In particular, the Pelicans lead the NBA with 43.2 three-point attempts per game.
That opponent percentage is extremely low, and it is especially impressive considering the Thunder have gone already against the likes of Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Bradley Beal, Stephen Curry, D’Angelo Russell, James Harden, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in this young season.
New Orleans will try to push the pace in this game to get open looks from three-point range. The Thunder will try to prevent those, but will they do it as well as they have so far?
Will Brandon Ingram Go Off Again for the Pelicans?
Ingram is a Most Improved Player award candidate so far this season. He is averaging 26.8 points and 4.8 assists per game on a shooting slash of 51/50/76.9, showing aggressiveness and volume shooting from three-point range that we haven’t seen before.
Against the Thunder, he has the opportunity to play very well on offense again. The Thunder are without defensive stopping wing Andre Roberson, and their remaining options to guard the 6’9” Ingram are either too slow (Danilo Gallinari) or too small (Gilgeous-Alexander, Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo).
Even with other solid offensive options on the Pelicans, New Orleans needs to continue to feed Ingram and hope he puts forth yet another productive offensive performance.
What is Steven Adams’ Condition Going to Be?
Right now, Thunder center Steven Adams is questionable due to a knee injury. He has not played up to his standards this year on offense (just 6 points per game on a 31.4 true-shooting percentage) but he is always a beastly rebounder who also plays strong defense. The offense is going to come around at some point, too.
Especially since Pelicans center Derrick Favors is doubtful to play today, there is a huge opportunity for Adams to dominate the paint if he is close to 100 percent. He could potentially put together a game of 20 points and 20 rebounds.
Of course, if Adams’ knee is acting up and he either doesn’t play or his impact is neutralized by his injury, the Pelicans will have a lot easier of a time in this contest.
Our Betting Preview’s New Orleans Pelicans vs Oklahoma City Thunder Picks & Predictions
I almost would recommend waiting to hear about Adams’ condition for this game, because that could be a huge swing that affects this game even more than a change of the betting lines would even project.
However, I think the Pelicans are ultimately a safer pick. The current NBA seems to be favoring a fast pace more and more. I think the Pelicans are better equipped to play that way. Having Favors and potentially Adams out of this game means more small lineups and more up-and-down play, as well. These are the New Orleans Pelicans vs OKC predictions for this preview:
- The Thunder are a 3-point favorite with the US oddssetters in this game, for now. I suggest betting on the Pelicans to cover +3pts @ -105 with Bovada, Intertops, Bookmaker or BetOnline.
- I feel this game will hit the over. Injured big players means a faster pace, which means more points. You should bet the over 229pts @ -105 with Bovada.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.