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GAMEDAY PREVIEW: Thunder Host The Struggling Pelicans

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When the 2015-16 NBA schedule was released, many NBA fans pinpointed this first Pelicans/Thunder matchup as must-see TV. At the time, Oklahoma City was fully healthy again, and the Pelicans were fresh off a playoff appearance while bolstering the league’s best young player in Anthony Davis.

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Now that the time has come for the two teams to square off, some of the circumstances surrounding the game have changed. The Pelicans hold a lowly 1-10 record due to infestation of the injury bug, while the Thunder are without perennial all-star Kevin Durant, who’s nursing a hamstring strain.To top it off, Davis is unlikely to play for New Orleans due to a shoulder injury he suffered in last night's game against the Nuggets.

Despite the unexpected issues, the game will go on at 7 p.m. and the people inside of Chesapeake Energy Arena will likely cheer as loud as ever. Here are a couple of things to keep an eye on during this clash of Western Conference opponents:

Will Westbrook continue his hot streak vs. NOLA?

Russell Westbrook is known to bring his “A Game” offensively just about every time he steps on the hardwood, but against the Pelicans, Westbrook normally brings his “A+++ Game”. The last two times Westbrook faced New Orleans, the point guard scored 45 and 48 points respectively.

Westbrook should be able to have his way again tonight with his former teammate Ish Smith playing point guard for New Orleans. Smith is a hustle player, but he’s clearly under matched when squaring off against the league’s most lethal basketball assassin. Westbrook will need to dial in on both sides of the floor if OKC wants to become a more complete team.

Will the losing streak end?

The Thunder got blown out in the fourth quarter at home against the Celtics on Sunday, then took a loss in Memphis the following night to begin this two-game skid. Oklahoma City will need to right the ship against a struggling Pelicans team.

Not only do the Pelicans only have one win on the season, but that lone win came on their home floor. New Orleans is currently 0-6 on the road this season, and with all of the injuries holding them back, it would take a meltdown by the Thunder to let this game slip by.

Monty Williams reunion

Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams used to be the head man for the Pelicans until he was fired after last season. His firing came after he led the Pelicans to the playoffs for the first time since 2011, and happened to do it in a loaded Western Conference.

Williams supposedly had a great relationship with Davis, who didn’t want to see his coach get fired and publicly supported him throughout the media.

It should be interesting to see if the Thunder plays with any extra intensity to try and prove a point for their new assistant coach. 

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