Matchup: Oklahoma City Thunder vs New Orleans Pelicans
Records: Thunder (17-8), Pelicans (14-15)
Where to Watch
Date: Thursday, Dec. 13
Time: 6:30 AM IST
TV: Sony Ten1
Location: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
It's been a spectacular turnaround for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After starting the season 0-4, they have won 17 of the next 21 games, which includes a 7-game winning streak. Through these 25 games, they have the league's best defense and what's remarkable is that, they've achieved this consistency without arguably their greatest wing defender in Andre Roberson.
During their 17-4 run, they have the league's best net rating and have registered over ten double-digit wins. While the obvious target for their success could be Russell Westbrook (22.1 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.2 assists) and his six triple-doubles but instead it's Paul George.
The former Indiana Pacers' superstar is averaging career-highs in points (24.3), rebounds (7.8), assists (4.3), and steals (2.2 - leads the league) on 43.1% shooting and 36.1% from beyond the arc. He's almost single-handedly ensured the Thunder went 5-3 in the eight games that Westbrook missed due to knee issues this season.
At the time of writing, Roberson, who suffered a setback in his return from a left knee injury, is expected to be out at least til Jan. 10.
So far, Oklahoma City have faced an even schedule, playing 13 of their 25 games at home at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. However, the team spends a majority of the second half of December on the road - 7 of the remaining 10 games.
Shifting to the Pelicans, this season has been an inconcisistent campaign to say the least. For close to two weeks, New Orleans hasn't won two straight or lost two straight. They have just been alternating the results of a win and loss over the past nine games.
Their longest win streak has been just four games and that was the first four games of the season. Since that 4-0 start, they have gone 10-15 (including a six-game losing streak) which is pretty underwhelming for a team that has one of the league's best players in Anthony Davis.
After 29 games, Davis is averaging 27.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.8 blocks and 1.7 steals. In addition to that, the team also has productive and contrasting bigs in Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle as well.
Together, this trio with Jrue Holiday have been fueling the team's offense which currently has a rating of 112.7, good for 4th best in the league. Making 47.3 field goals per game (2nd-best) at a 48.1% clip (3rd-best), the Pelicans seem to be just fine without Rajon Rondo and have been able to carry over the offensive form from their late-season run last year. Unfortunately, their defense has been able to live up to the same standards. Their defense rating for the season so far ranks at 24th (111.3).
New Orleans has enjoyed a pretty even schedule up until now - 14 at home and 15 on the road - and it stays that way with the team playing an equal number of games at home and on the road from the remaining eight contests in December.
Last Time They Played
Date: Nov. 6, 2018
Score: Pelicans 116, Thunder 122
Thunder: Paul George - 23 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals
Pelicans: Jrue Holiday - 22 points, 14 assists, and 4 rebounds on 61.5% shooting