Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New Orleans Pelicans – NBA, January 6, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| January 5, 2021 8:56 am PDT

The Pelicans lead the tightly packed Southwest Division whilst the Thunder sit just above the bottom spot in the Northwest.

The Thunder have been relatively poor in the early days of the season, picking up two wins from their opening four fixtures.

New Orleans has a positive record of four wins and three losses from their first seven games, which puts them just ahead of the Mavericks in the Southwest.

This is a fixture that the Thunder have dominated in recent years, winning four of the last five played between the two teams. However, the Pelicans win came four days ago and was a crushing 33 point victory! One thing that may go in the Thunder’s favor, however, is that the away team has won this fixture the last three times that it has been played.

Thunder vs. Pelicans Odds

Thunder +5.5-110
Pelicans -5.5-110
Thunder To Win+185
Pelicans To Win-215
Over 215.5 Points-110
Under 215.5 Points-110

My initial thoughts are that I expected the spread to be slightly higher, given the Pelican’s 33 point win just four days ago. The bookmakers are expecting a relatively low scoring game between these two.

Thunder News

The Thunder haven’t started this campaign off well and have suffered a couple of heavy defeats already against the Pelicans and last time out against the Heat, where they lost by 28. So it seems when they get down, there is very little fight in them, which bodes well if you wanted to back against them with the spread.

One positive for the Thunder is that their two wins this season did come on the road against the Magic and the Hornets. Another is that they have won seven of the last ten games against the Pelicans, which does give them real hope of exacting revenge.

They also have a good record against the spread when playing the Pelicans as they have only lost one of the last five. This season they have a slightly positive record with three wins and two defeats.

Although 60% of the Thunders’ games have gone over the 215 point mark, their average scores are 3.5 points lower than that total. This is presumably because of the two thrashings they took where they only posted scores of 80 and 90. They have the second-lowest average points per game in the league at just over 100 points, which is no wonder why the betting total is low.

Frustration has kicked in at times in this early stage of the season, and they have given away too many personal fouls averaging 18 per game, which is the leagues fourth highest.

One area that the Thunder can definitely improve upon is from the free-throw line as they have the second-worst record in the league, just ahead of the Cavaliers. However, with that said, the Pelicans have the third-worst record, so that might not come into play tonight, but it will definitely need to improve going forward.

Another would be their offensive rebound, where they are averaging just seven per game, which is the leagues third lowest count. This is surprising, however, as, at the other end, they are very good, averaging 38 rebounds per game, which is the fourth-highest in the NBA. This is probably down to the fact that they are getting plenty of practice at present, spending so little time with the ball. They turn the ball over far too often, averaging 17 per game, which is far too many.

Aleksej Pokusevski will be a loss to the Thunder as he currently has the most steals for Oklahoma, but he will miss the game due to a concussion.

Pelicans News

The Pelicans have started this season fairly well, and apart from their defeat to the Suns, they have done well in their last five games, winning three of them and narrowly going down to the Pacers in overtime last time out.

At home, they have the same positive record as the Thunder do on the road with two wins from three games.

It’s been hard to follow the Pelicans against the spread this season as they have won three and lost three, so trying to get them right can be tricky. However, they have already overcome a 5.5 handicap once already this season.

Because they have been involved in a few close games this season, their matches have tended to be low-scoring affairs, with only one going over the betting total so far. When you combine the two teams’ average points so far this season, it averages eight points lower than the betting total here. So it’s no surprise then to see that their average points total is a low 104, which is the fifth-lowest in the NBA.

Breaking the Pelicans game down, you can see that the Pelicans pick up a lot of rebounds averaging just under 50 per game, which could be significant given the Thunder don’t pick up many offensive rebounds.

However, one criticism is that they don’t move the ball around well or fast enough. This is backed up by the fact that they have the four lowest amount of assists in the league this year.

Expect this game to be physical as, like the Thunder, the Pelicans to pick up many personal fouls, and they currently have the most in the league this season.

Thunder vs. Pelicans Pick

Pick
  • Pelicans To Win
    -215

There is little doubt in my mind that the Pelicans will win this match, but they have been very hit and miss betting against the spread, so I am going to play this one safe and take them to win straight up.

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