A day or two ago, Thursday’s Thunder/Pelicans game looked like just another pit stop on the road through the dog days of the season. A high-powered Thunder team, an underachieving Pelicans team; ho hum, move on.
But all that changed overnight on Tuesday when Ingrid Williams, wife of Thunder assistant coach and former Pelicans head coach Monty Williams, died as the result of a two-car accident in Oklahoma City.
The news is devastating under any circumstance, but even more so that Ingrid was just 44 years old and leaves behind five children. Players and coaches from around the NBA have poured in their support for Monty and his family, sending thoughts and prayers via Twitter and other mediums.
Monty’s status with the Thunder is unknown moving forward, but you can be sure that Thursday’s matchup between his current and former teams will be an emotionally-draining ordeal.
As for that matchup, here’s a look at few additional storylines:
1. Pelicans soaring?
Perhaps soaring is a bit strong, but these birds are at least off the ground. A playoff team a season ago, New Orleans inexplicably started this season 1-11 and found itself in a possibly insurmountable hole. But the Pels finally woke up and have been playing around .500 ever since (20-21). New Orleans is still six games out of the No. 8 spot with 30 to play, so don’t count ‘em out because there's plenty to play for.
2. Dealing with Davis
Remember the Thunder’s 110-103 win over New Orleans early this season? The Pelicans do, because that’s the loss that dropped them to 1-11. The Pelicans also remember because they had to play that game without Jrue Holiday, Omer Asik, Norris Cole and, you guessed it, Anthony Davis. Davis averaged 32 points per game last season against the Thunder, and speaking of remembering, no one has forgotten the buzzer-beating 3-pointer he drained on Feb. 7 in OKC to secure the 116-113 win. That shot ended up vaulting the Pelicans into the playoffs over the Thunder.
3. Travel issues
The Pelicans have been a mighty different team when venturing too far from the vaunted Smoothie King Center this season. In fact, only four teams in the league have fewer road wins than has New Orleans. The Pelicans are 6-20 in visiting arenas, which doesn’t bode well against a Thunder club that’s 24-5 at home.
Tip time is at 7 p.m. on TNT, but we’ll have full coverage on news9.com