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3 keys to Thunder winning first-round series vs. surging Pelicans

The OKC Thunder will have their hands full in their return to the NBA playoffs as the New Orleans Pelicans occupy the eighth seed after defeating the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.

After facing off in last year’s Play-In match, a match that saw the Thunder eliminate NOLA, Mark Daigneault’s club will be heading to a rematch of sorts in a best-of-seven series, but will now face Chet have Holmgren on their side. while the Pelicans remain without superstar Zion Williamson due to a new injury.

With the best young group in the league, it should come as no surprise that Oklahoma City is the favorite to win this first round.

However, the Pelicans will enter the playoffs with perimeter stoppers, such as Herb Jones and Dyson Daniels, and spitfire scorers such as CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram, to try to soften the Thunder’s offensive weapons.

It’s easier said than done, but New Orleans has put together a roster that could challenge this matchup with the conference kings even without the services of Williamson.

Additionally, the Pelicans have slightly more playoff experience than the youthful Thunder. Jones, Trey Murphy and Jose Alvarado already had a 2022 first-round series under their belts, while McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas boast appearances in the conference finals.

The former in particular is a veteran of the playoffs, having only missed the big dance once in his entire career.

This series will be a great way for the Thunder to get their feet wet in the postseason in what is expected to be a deep and prosperous run.

That said, to embark on such a journey they need to get past their first-round opponents in the Pelicans, and there are some specific keys they need to hone if they want to do so. .