New Orleans Pelicans vs. Oklahoma City Thunder – NBA, April 29, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| April 29, 2021 10:51 am PDT

Fourth in the Northwest, takes on fourth in the Southwest as the Thunder host the Pelicans at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Pelicans will still feel they have an outside chance of stealing the final pre-playoff spot from the Warriors, but they will have to start to close the gap soon if that is to happen. Unfortunately for the Thunder, it has been a disappointing season, and their only goal left for this season is to avoid finishing last in the Division.

They should be confident of helping that cause tonight as they have beaten the Pelicans on five of the last six occasions they have met. The most recent of those was when they edged a tight one at the beginning of the year, winning by a single point. The difference between the teams was their three-point shooting, as the Pelicans only made 18% of their shots from deep, which has to be one of the lowest success rates this season.

However, the Thunder will have to be wary tonight as the traveling team has won this fixture on the previous four occasions it has played. New Orleans beat Oklahoma on their last visit to the Chesapeake Energy Arena, and that win ended a run of four straight defeats there.

Look for the Pelicans to dominate the boards tonight, as this is an area they have won in over the previous ten meetings.

Pelicans vs. Thunder Odds

Pelicans -9.5 -110
Thunder +9.5 -110
Pelicans To Win -400
Thunder To Win +350
Over 229.5 Points -110
Under 229.5 Points -110

While I expected the Pelicans to be favorites here, I didn’t think it would be quite so clear-cut, especially seen as the Thunder lead the series over the last ten meetings 7-3. The points total is perhaps one or two points bigger than I anticipated, but it doesn’t look too out of the ordinary.

Coincidentally, both teams have a record of 5-11 against teams in the Western Conference when playing either home (Pelicans) or away (Thunder).

Pelicans Analysis

The Pelicans have been very hit and miss as of late, having alternated defeats with wins in their previous five games. However, if you look at the slightly bigger picture, they have only won two of their last eight matches, which has dented their playoff aspirations badly. It is worth highlighting that four of those six defeats came by a margin of two points or less. Some may say they have been unlucky, but others will argue they lack guts when it comes to the business end of games.

New Orleans has been one of the worst teams on the road in the Western Conference this season, having won ten and lost 19 of their 29 road trips. Much like their overall record as of late, they have only won two matches from their previous seven games on the road. Those wins came over two teams struggling in Cleveland and Orlando, and therefore you have to say they go into this one in poor form.

Here are the latest betting trends for New Orleans:

  • The Pelicans have only won one of their previous six matches against the spread when battling the Thunder.
  • They have lost five of their last seven games on the road against the spread.
  • New Orleans has only won on two of their previous ten visits to Oklahoma.
  • Six of their last seven games against teams in the Western Conference have gone under the betting total.
  • The Pelicans have lost ten of their previous 12 matches against teams based in the Northwest Division.
  • The total has gone over in 16 of their last 20 games played on a Thursday.

The Pelicans have one of the best offenses in the NBA this season.

They have been mightily impressive in and around the paint, and therefore it will pay for the Thunder to defend deep tonight. And it certainly won’t hurt Oklahoma’s chances if they play aggressively in defense tonight, as the Pelicans are only scoring 73% from the free-throw line this season. They will need both of these factors to be on point this evening as they are coming up against the best attacking rebounding unit in the league.

New Orleans has often been bullied out of games this season, so the Thunder should most certainly take an aggressive approach tonight.

Their defense has been their biggest letdown this season as they have failed to cover their opponents well enough most nights.

Especially from deep, where they are allowing their opponents to score at a success rate of 38%.

However, much like their offense, their rebounding is their most significant asset as they rank third in the league this season.

The Pelicans announced this week that they had signed Brazilian Didi Louzadi from the Australian team, the Sydney Kings. Hopefully, Didi will plug some holes in their leaky defense, which has crippled them this season.

New Orleans will be without Hart and Alexander-Walker tonight, while Adams is questionable to play as he left the game with a toe injury last time out.

Thunder Analysis

The Thunder shocked the Celtics in their most recent matchup, which ended a horrendous run of 14 straight defeats. They’ve shown barely any signs of wanting a victory in their previous games, losing by 20 against the Wizards and 31 against the 76ers, so the win came out of the blue. If they had lost against Boston, it would have been a franchise record, so they became focused on not letting that happen. Many came out after the win over the Celtics and criticized Boston for their apparent disregard for the game, which undoubtedly stole the Thunder from Oklahoma’s success.

Their form at home has only been better than one other team in the Western Conference as they have only picked up nine victories from their 30 home matches. They have lost their previous six games in Oklahoma by margins of 24, 11, 27, 24, 38, and 20. It’s now clear to see why the spread is so big tonight.

Here are the latest betting trends for Oklahoma City:

  • Oklahoma City is 5-14 against the spread in their previous 19 matches.
  • They have only won one of their last 15 games.
  • Four of their previous six matches against the Pelicans have gone under the betting total.
  • The Thunder has lost their last six games in a row against the spread they have played at home.
  • They have only won one of their previous six matchups against the spread when facing Western Conference opposition.
  • All of their last five games against teams based in the Southwest Division have gone over the points total.
  • Four of their previous six matches played on a Thursday have seen the betting total go under.

Oklahoma City has a terrible offense this season that is ranked amongst the bottom three in the NBA. They can’t seem to shoot, whether from inside or outside the arc or even from the free-throw line.

The Thunders’ passing game certainly hasn’t helped either as they make a low number of assists and the most turnovers in the league.

As they showed against the Pelicans last time, their defense has been marginally better, and they have been particularly good at shutting out teams from deep.

They also have an excellent defensive rebounding game which makes this area a fascinating matchup given the Pelicans have excelled in this department themselves.

However, they have defended worse at home this season, conceding on average three more points per game.

The Thunder will miss both Gilgeous-Alexander and Deck tonight, while Muscala, Bradley, and Hall remain questionable to feature.

Pelicans vs. Thunder Betting Pick

Both of these teams look very poor right now, and if I could bet against both of them, I would. I was tempted to take the Thunder with the handicap, but their recent home form concerns, and I can’t take them with any confidence.

It is also hard to back over the points total with a game that features them as their attack is dreadful. I think the safest play here is to bet on under the points total. The Pelicans rely on their rebounding game to produce a high percentage of their points, and they are coming up against a side that can match them in this department and could smother their attack.

Pick
  • Under 229.5 Points
    -110

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