Thunder vs. Pelicans

NBA Playoffs 2024: Thunder vs. Pelicans First Round Preview, Betting Odds

The New Orleans Pelicans, even without the services of Zion Williamson for their final attempt, managed to claw their way out of the NBA's play-in tournament to secure a first-round matchup with the No. 1-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in this year's playoffs.

Here's everything you need to know before these two squads take the hardwood for their best-of-seven series. 

2024 NBA Playoff Previews

(Related Link) NBA Playoff Betting History: Key Trends, Tips

Oklahoma City Thunder Vs. New Orleans Pelicans Hub

Oklahoma City Thunder Vs. New Orleans Pelicans Schedule

GameDateTime (ET)Arena
Game 1Sunday, April 21, 20249:30 p.m.Paycom Center
Game 2Wednesday, April 24, 20249:30 p.m.Paycom Center
Game 3Saturday, April 27, 20243:30 p.m. Smoothie King Center
Game 4Monday, April 29, 2024TBDSmoothie King Center
Game 5Wednesday, May 1, 2024TBDPaycom Center
Game 6Friday, May 3, 2024TBDSmoothie King Center
Game 7Sunday, May 5, 2024TBDPaycom Center

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New Orleans Pelicans Series Winner Odds

Oklahoma City Thunder-700
New Orleans Pelicans+450

While oddsmakers don't believe that will be the case here, there have been six instances in NBA history where a No. 8 seed has upset a No. 1 seed in the first round.

The 1993-94 Denver Nuggets accomplished it first by defeating the Seattle SuperSonics in five games, and the 2022-23 Miami Heat managed to pull off the feat last season by shocking the Milwaukee Bucks in five games en route to a Finals berth. 

Oklahoma City Thunder Vs. New Orleans Pelicans Total Games Odds

Total GamesOdds
5 Games+180
6 Games+260
4 Games+300
7 Games+320

This is the first postseason appearance for the Thunder since 2019-20 when it was ousted in the opening round in seven games by the Houston Rockets. The franchise hasn't advanced past the first round since 2015-16. The Pelicans, meanwhile, return to the playoffs after failing to qualify last year. 

Oklahoma City Thunder Vs. New Orleans Pelicans Series Prediction Odds

Series OutcomeOdds
Oklahoma City Thunder 4-0TBD
Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1TBD
Oklahoma City Thunder 4-2TBD
Oklahoma City Thunder 4-3TBD
New Orleans Pelicans 4-0TBD
New Orleans Pelicans 4-1TBD
New Orleans Pelicans 4-2TBD
New Orleans Pelicans 4-3TBD

Still to come. 

Oklahoma City Thunder Vs. New Orleans Pelicans 2023-24 Season Series (Thunder 2-1)

DateResultLeading Scorer
March 26, 2024119-112 ThunderZion Williamson, Pelicans (29 Points)
Jan. 26, 2024107-83 ThunderShai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder (31 Points)
Nov. 1, 2023110-106 PelicansC.J. McCollum, Pelicans (29 Points)

It's fitting that New Orleans' one victory over Oklahoma City was on the road, as the Pelicans possessed the strongest road record in basketball at 28-24. They were also a commendable 26-22 against teams better than .500, which was fourth-best in the conference.

Oklahoma City Thunder Vs. New Orleans Pelicans 2023-24 Spread History

DateSpread (Thunder)Spread (Pelicans)Result
March 26, 2024-1+1Thunder Cover (Favorites)
Jan. 26, 2024-1.5+1.5Thunder Cover (Favorites)
Nov. 1, 2023-3.5 +3.5 Pelicans Cover (Underdogs)

The Thunder won 77 percent of their games with a 47-14 record when entering as a favorite, including twice both SU and ATS against New Orleans. 

Oklahoma City Thunder Vs. New Orleans Pelicans 2023-24 OVER/UNDER History

DateScoreO/U TotalFinal TotalO/U Result
March 26, 2024119-112223231OVER
Jan. 26, 2024107-83238190UNDER
Nov. 1, 2023110-106227.5216UNDER

The Thunder hit the OVER an impressive 44 times in 2023-24, but managed to topple the total set by oddsmakers just once against a New Orleans team that reached it 36 times over the course of the campaign.

Oklahoma City Thunder Vs. New Orleans Pelicans Top Scorer Odds

Shai Gilgeous-AlexanderOklahoma City Thunder-330
Brandon IngramNew Orleans Pelicans+750
CJ McCollumNew Orleans Pelicans+750
Jalen WilliamsOklahoma City Thunder+1200
Trey Murphy IIINew Orleans Pelicans+5000
Chet HolmgrenOklahoma City Thunder+6500
Jonas ValanciunasNew Orleans Pelicans+10000
Josh GiddeyOklahoma City Thunder+13000
Herb JonesNew Orleans Pelicans+20000
Lu DortOklahoma City Thunder+20000

Oklahoma City Thunder Player To Watch: Jalen Williams

Games (vs. Pelicans)PTSFG%3P%REBASTSTLBLK

A longshot candidate for Most Improved Player, Jalen Williams blossomed into one of the game's rising young stars as the Thunder's second-leading scorer. He emerged as a reliable end-of-game option converting 28-of-41 shots in the last five minutes of close games and was arguably Oklahoma City's strongest perimeter defender, which is saying something standing alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. 

New Orleans Pelicans Player To Watch: Brandon Ingram

Games (vs. Thunder)PTSFG%3P%REBASTSTLBLK

Brandon Ingram can no longer hide behind the massive frame of the now injured Zion Williamson and be an afterthought. A 24-point effort on 50 percent shooting in the win over Sacramento was a good start, as it will be those types of performances that can help keep New Orleans in a series against a still unproven Thunder roster. 

Oklahoma City Thunder Vs. New Orleans Pelicans Odds To Win Western Conference

TeamOdds To Win West
Oklahoma City Thunder+460
New Orleans Pelicans+6500

Oddsmakers aren't giving the Pelicans a glimmer of hope here, as their 65-to-1 odds are by the worst of any team in the West. The Los Angeles Lakers also advanced out of the play-in tournament and sit at 15-to-1 to represent the conference in the Finals.  

Oklahoma City Thunder Vs. New Orleans Pelicans Odds To Win NBA Championship

TeamOdds To Win NBA Finals
Oklahoma City Thunder+1300
New Orleans Pelicans+13000

Talk about a discrepancy. It remains to be seen how much better New Orleans' odds would have been had Williamson been healthy. 

Expert Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder (-700), Oklahoma City Thunder Win Series 4-1

As young and inexperienced as the Thunder are, prevailing as the top seed in the West which wasn't even determined until the last day of the season is quite the feather in their cap. If anything, though, it does add a significant amount of pressure, as the expectations to go far are there. Thankfully, they're playing the long game and are built for years of success no matter how this playoff run culminates. 

New Orleans did go 7-5 SU without Williamson in the lineup, which improves to 8-5 if you include the latest dub over the Kings. Its best interior option in Jonas Valanciunas may be rendered obsolete in a series like this, though, against the more athletic and nimble Chet Holmgren. The Lithuanian big man only averaged 17.3 minutes against Oklahoma City, down from his season average of 23.5. 

Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault will have his players ready, understanding that nothing is a given despite their seeding. New Orleans could steal a game, but if that's the case, it may awaken Oklahoma City even more in what should end up being a gentlemen's sweep. 

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