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How to watch the first round on TV, stream, dates, times

The Thunder and Pelicans are two of the best young teams in the NBA. They will play each other in the first round of the NBA playoffs. What is the schedule and how can you watch the series?

The Oklahoma City Thunder came out of nowhere to earn the number one seed in the Western Conference. The team underwent one of the biggest rebuilds in league history after trading Russell Westbrook and Paul George in the summer of 2019, and it has already paid off. The Thunder will face another young, up-and-coming team in this year’s NBA playoffs.

In this article we explain everything you need to know about the first round between the Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans.

Where is Thunder vs. Pelicans?

The Thunder finished as the top seed in the Western Conference. Therefore, they will have home field advantage until the NBA Finals. In the first round, Oklahoma City will host Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 at Paycom Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Pelicans will host Games 3, 4 and 6 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.

How Thunder vs. Pelicans to watch

Game 1: Pelicans at Thunder: Sunday, April 21 at 9:30 PM ET – TNT

Game 2: Pelicans at Thunder: Wednesday, April 24 at 9:30 PM ET – TNT

Game 3: Thunder at Pelicans: Saturday, April 27 at 3:30 PM ET – TNT

Game 4: Thunder at Pelicans: Monday, April 29

Game 5: Pelicans at Thunder: Wednesday, May 1

Game 6: Thunder at Pelicans: Friday, May 3

Game 7: Pelicans at Thunder: Sunday, May 5

Thunder storylines

Cason Wallace shoots over Herb Jones in a Thunder vs.  Pelicans game
Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t that long ago that the Thunder traded away almost their entire roster for a plethora of draft picks. Just two seasons ago they even won 24 games. However, Sam Presti’s vision is starting to come true as the Thunder are now legitimate title contenders. The team is one of the youngest in the NBA and while their future is bright, they are now ready to prove themselves.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leads the way for Oklahoma City. By scoring 30.1 points per game, Gilgeous-Alexander has greatly helped the Thunder go from a 10 seed to the top seed this season, cementing himself as a top-tier MVP candidate. Gilgeous-Alexander is only 25 years old, yet the oldest starter on his team.

Jalen Williams has blossomed into a star in his own right, Chet Holmgren has exceeded expectations in his rookie year, and Lu Dort has established himself as one of the best offensive defensemen in the league. Even Josh Giddey has improved his game of late, becoming a more reliable shooter from deep.

Oklahoma City also has a ton of depth, as they seemingly always find bargain players who can play big minutes. Cason Wallace was one of the top rookies this year, Isaiah Joe is an elite three-point shooter and deadline day Gordon Hayward adds a veteran presence to an otherwise young roster.

Of course, the postseason is a very different ballgame than the regular season, and the Thunder have almost no experience in playoff basketball. They have the talent to score no matter what, but the Pelicans won’t be an easy matchup.

Pelicans storylines

Jose Alvarado shows emotion in a Thunder vs.  Pelicans game
Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports

Only six 8-seeds have ever advanced past the first round, but the Pelicans have as good a chance as anyone this season. The Heat proved last year that an 8 seed can make a deep playoff run, and New Orleans has even more talent on the roster than that team.

Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson are one of the best duos in the NBA. Unfortunately, Williamson will be out for at least the first game of the series due to a hamstring injury suffered late in a play-in tournament loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Pelicans were able to win their next play-in game against the Sacramento Kings despite Williamson’s asbence, but so much of the offense runs through the former No. 1 pick that the team will need him back sooner rather than later to can compete with Oklahoma City.

In the play-in game that Williamson missed, Jonas Valanciunas made a big move, using his power to bully Domantas Sabonis down low. Valanciunas will have a bigger mismatch in size and strength against Holmgren, and the Pelicans will need him to take advantage without Williamson.

New Orleans is actually one of the few teams that can match Oklahoma City when it comes to depth. In the postseason, rotations are usually reduced to eight or nine players, but both teams are deep enough that they can feel comfortable playing their regular season rotations. CJ McCollum and Herb Jones round out the starting lineup for the Pelicans, with the former gaining plenty of playoff experience during his time with the Portland Trail Blazers and the latter having an All-Defense caliber season.

Off the bench you have Trey Murphy, a great shooter with length, Jose Alvarado, a bully who always makes big plays, and Larry Nance, a small ball player who plays well with the team’s starters. Williamson could miss the entire first round, so all of these players will be counted on to extend the run until their star returns.