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OKC Playoff Run begins with Game 1 against Pelicans

Playoff basketball is back in Oklahoma City.

The Thunder open the 2024 playoffs on Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans defeated the Sacramento Kings in the play-in to secure the final playoff spot, but they won’t enter the first round at full strength.

Although the Thunder come in with a clean injury report, the Pelicans are without star forward Zion Williamson. His status after Game 1 is unknown, but games without him will be a tall order for the Pelicans.

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April 12, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Richardson (2) shoots

CHANCES:

The Thunder enter the day as 8.5-point favorites against the Pelicans, and the over/under total is 214.5 points.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

In a matchup between two of the top seven defenses in the league, the team with the most stars will likely have the advantage. Without Williamson, the Pelicans’ offensive burden will be heavy on Brandon Ingram.

Ingram has played below his normal level since returning from injury, and a match against Lu Dort is unlikely to help him. Although he missed two of three games in the regular season, Ingram scored 12 points and took just nine shots in a January loss.

Rebounding will continue to be an area to watch for the Thunder in the playoffs, especially against the Pelicans, who rank sixth in defensive rebounding percentage. The Thunder and Pelicans also excel at creating live-ball turnovers and getting out in transition, with both teams finishing in the top three in steals per game.

Elite outside shooting could also change the series, with both teams finishing in the top four in 3-point percentage.

RECORDS:

Oklahoma City Thunder (57-25) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (49-33)

INJURIES:

Check us out, along with our matchday injury report coming later today.

WHEN:

Sunday, April 21, 2024, at 8:30 PM CT

PLACE:

Paycom Center – Oklahoma City, OK

TV/RADIO:

TNT, Bally Sports Oklahoma, NBA League Pass, 98.1 FM The Sports Animal

LAST WORD:

Loud City is expected to be back at full strength with playoff T-shirts and an inspired fan base. If the Thunder can channel that energy into wins, Sunday’s game could be the start of a deep playoff run.

The Thunder and Pelicans are back at Paycom Center for Game 2 on Wednesday.

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