Pelicans Return Home Hoping For Reversal of Recent Fortunes vs Thunder in Critical Game 3

NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Pelicans home record this season has been a strange outlier in the midst of an otherwise noteworthy season.

NOP home record
vs OKC since 2019

Only the Atlanta Hawks (20) finished the regular season with fewer home victories than the Pelicans (21) among postseason qualifiers.

Now, down 0-2 in their first round playoff series to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Pels are about to play their most important home game of the season.

The big question is can the Pelicans overcome two bad trends?

The Smoothie King Center has been very hospitable to visitors lately, with the Pelicans losing six of their last eight games inside the Blender. New Orleans has won only once in its last eight (nine if you count last season’s Play-in game) home matchups with the Thunder.

Following a 32-point loss in Game Two, the Pelicans are already in a tremendous hole. A loss this afternoon would put the Pels on the verge of elimination with nearly insurmountable odds against them.

It’s now or never.

Keys to the Game

Stars Gotta Be Stars. The Pelicans have gotten decent offensive contributions from 3/5 of their starting lineup. Trey Murphy, Jonas Valanciunas, and Herb Jones have combined for 43.5 points, 17.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 2.0 blocks per game. Murphy and Jones are making 6.5 three-pointers per game, while the rest of the team is combining for 2.5.

Not having Zion Williamson is a major loss, but the Pelicans have not gotten the production from Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum that’s been needed. Through 2 games Ingram is averaging 15 ppg on 37.5% shooting. He’s completely abandoned the three. The physicality of Lu Dort on defense is one thing, but for a player seeking a max contract and trying to cement himself in the firmament of NBA stars, BI’s play is nowhere close to where it needs to be.

McCollum leads the Pelicans in scoring in the series (17.5 ppg), and this series would be even if he knocks down his triple at the end of Game One, but he hasn’t been on fire either. CJ is shooting 41.7% from the floor and just over 21% from beyond the arc.

Those two have to at least match their regular season outputs to give the Pelicans a real chance at victory this afternoon.

Be Aggressive. Be, Be Aggressive. Any observer watching the first two games in Oklahoma City could see just how difficult it has been for the Pelicans to deal with the physicality of the Thunder. Though OKC is the smaller team they have been bigger than the Pels when it counts. On offense, they have consistently been able to get downhill and into the paint, creating easy shots at the rim or open looks on the perimeter. On defense, they’ve kept the Pelicans moving side-to-side rather than towards the bucket.

Leave It All on the Floor. At some point pride has to kick in for the New Orleans Pelicans. They’ve been inconsistent at home, and were just embarrassed on the road. The crowd will be hyped. The atmosphere will be electric. But if the Pelicans don’t match their energy, a season that began with so much hope will turn into just another disappointment. How bad do the Pelicans want to win? We’re about to find out.

Most Recent Starting Lineups

Oklahoma City ThunderNew Orleans Pelicans
G – Josh GiddeyG – CJ McCollum
G – Shai Gilgeous-AlexanderG – Herbert Jones
G – Lu DortF – Brandon Ingram
F – Jalen WilliamsF – Trey Murphy
C – Chet HolmgrenC – Jonas Valanciunas


New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson (left hamstring strain) is OUT. 

Oklahoma City Thunder: None reported

Who: (1) Oklahoma City Thunder at (8) New Orleans Pelicans

Series Schedule:

  • Game 1: Thunder def. Pelicans, 94-92
  • Game 2: Thunder def. Pelicans, 124-92
  • Game 3: Saturday, April 27
  • Game 4: Monday, April 29
  • Game 5: Wednesday, May 1 (if necessary)
  • Game 6: Friday, May 3 (if necessary)
  • Game 7: Sunday, May 5 (if necessary)

Where: Smoothie King Center

When: Apr. 27, 2:30 PM CDT

Where to watch: TNT/Bally Sports New Orleans

Where to listen: WRNO 99.5

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