Pelicans vs. Thunder Primer (Preseason Game 2)

pelicansvs. okc logo

  • When: Friday, 06 October 2017 at 7:00 pm CST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
  • TV: okcthunder.com or the OKC Thunder app (stream)
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))

One preseason game down. Oklahoma City Thunder fans finally got to see what Paul George and Carmelo Anthony will look like in Thunder uniforms. It didn’t always flow smoothly, but the set-up for something bigger was there. The two of the Big 3 who played put their vast array of skills on display. George showed his overall ability (offense and defense) and Anthony showed his shot-making ability.

Were there hiccups? Of course. George and Anthony overpassed a little, leading to a couple turnovers. In addition, they seemed a little lost on how to use Steven Adams. The chemistry developed between Russell Westbrook and Adams took about two seasons to actually produce fruit. It would be foolish to think the new players on the team would have immediate chemistry with the old players on the team.

In the end, let’s not forget the biggest factor why the Thunder looked a little disjointed: Westbrook sat the game out. Thankfully, he finally went through a full practice for the first time this training camp yesterday, and could be available for tonight’s game.

The Opponent

Like the Thunder, the New Orleans Pelicans also lost their first preseason game. The twin tower experiment is still a work in progress for the Pelicans. This team is the literal zig to the NBA’s zag. Having two great big men runs counter to how the NBA the being run nowadays. But DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis are no ordinary big men. Davis, when healthy, is the premiere big man in the league, combining a vast array of offensive skills with great defensive ability. And Cousins is the bull in the china shop with the grace of a ballerina.

The issue with the Pelicans lie in the area outside the paint. While Jrue Holiday is talented when healthy, and Rajon Rondo is a point guard wizard when his head is in the game, the rest of the role players on the roster have been less than spectacular. With teams packing the paint, it makes it difficult for the Pelicans if Holiday is the only consistent perimeter threat.

Injuries

  • Oklahoma City – Alex Abrines (knee), Patrick Patterson (knee)
  • New Orleans – Omer Asik (illness), Cheick Diallo (ankle), Solomon Hill (hamstring), Frank Jackson (foot)

Three Big Things

1. Post defense

While the Houston game put the focus on perimeter defense, this game is going the other way, putting the focus on post defense. These are the types of games where Adams and Enes Kanter would flourish together on the floor. Now, the Thunder are a bit smaller on the post. Putting Carmelo Anthony on either Davis or Cousins will be an adventure. For as big as Anthony is as a small forward, he’ll be just as small against a center-sized power forward.

This is where Patrick Patterson being out kind of hurts the Thunder. Likely, the Thunder will use Dakari Johnson a lot more in this game, as the dual big-man offense is more suited to his strengths defensively.

2. Terrance Ferguson

I’m not trying to get too excited with what I’m seeing from Ferguson in the last preseason game and the Blue/White scrimmage, but he seems like he’s going to be a good piece for this team eventually. This season? I don’t think so. But I also don’t think he’s long for the Thunder’s G-League team like I thought he would be when the team drafted him at 21. Ferguson put up 8 points on 2/4 shooting in 19 minutes in the Houston game. He looked comfortable out there, playing several of those minutes with George and Anthony.

3. Stay healthy

Injuries are a part of the game. But, bad injuries can completely side-track a season. While the Thunder suffered a scare with James Harden pulling Steven Adams by his back in the last game, the Thunder luckily came away with a “drugged up” Adams talking about his “glutish” injury. By Thursday, Adams was well enough to go through a full practice, and has proclaimed himself ready to go for tonight’s game.

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