Pelicans (1-10, 0-5 road) vs. Thunder (6-5, 4-2 home), 7PM CST at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK
Offensive Rating*: Thunder 110.2 (2nd), Pelicans 102.1 (20th)
Defensive Rating*: Thunder 105.2 (18th), Pelicans 112.3 (30th)
Simple Rating System**: Thunder 4.86 (5th), Pelicans -8.02 (29th)
* an estimate of points scored or allowed per 100 possessions
** team rating that takes into account average point differential and strength of schedule. Zero is league average.
Kevin Durant is out. Anthony Davis is a game time decision. Kendrick Perkins is out. At least two of those facts are bummers. Considering all of the hype that has built up around Davis – not necessarily undeserved – it would have been nice to see him and KD battle each other. The two teams don’t face each other again until February.
The Pelicans have more pressing concerns, anyway. Somewhat like the Thunder last season, they have been riddled with injuries out of the gate. That’s the biggest explanation for their 1-10 start to the season. Davis re-aggravated a shoulder injury last night versus the Nuggets. Point guard Jrue Holiday is not playing back-to-backs yet, so he too will sit tonight. The Pelicans are so banged up that their starting point guard, ironically, is Ish Smith, whom the Thunder signed last season with an injury hardship exception.
Non-Obvious Player to Watch, New Orleans: The aforementioned Smith is fourth in the league in total assists and assists per game. He also averaged 12.0 points per game for Philadelphia last season after being traded by the Thunder at the trade deadline (another irony: he was traded to the Pelicans just so they could waive him and eat the remainder of his salary). He also scored 17 against Golden State on opening night, and also dropped 17 on Dallas and 18 against Atlanta on back-to-back nights.
Non-Obvious Player to Watch, OKC: Anthony Morrow will likely get the starting nod again tonight. Last season he shot over 56% from the field and 50% from three against his former team. He could use a snap-out game like that tonight.
Random Fun Thing: Russell Westbrook has played 71% of the Thunder’s 538 minutes so far this season. When he’s on the court, the Thunder’s offensive rating is +12.5 (in English: they are 12.5 points per 100 possessions better when he plays). In the 154 minutes he’s off the court, the Thunder is -15.0. That’s a remarkable contrast.
Pregame coverage: David Garrett, John Rohde, and Desmond Mason have you covered starting at 6PM live from Flint Restaurant at the Colcord Hotel, one block north of the arena.
Postgame coverage: Erik Gee and I take to the air immediately following the game, also live from Flint. Skip traffic, get some food a drink, stop by and tell us how you’d handle the crisis in Syria. Tune in on 107.7 in Oklahoma City, 107.9 in Tulsa, or 1560AM.