New Orleans Pelicans: 3 matchups the Pels must dominate vs. Thunder

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on before playing the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on before playing the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /
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The New Orleans Pelicans need to win these matchups vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The New Orleans Pelicans would like nothing more than to forget their recent blowout loss to the Suns and the best way to do that is to take care of business vs. the Thunder.

The Thunder have once again been one of the surprise teams of the NBA, even though they are just 1-2 on the young season.

Related Story. 3 overreactions to blowout loss to the Suns. light

They’ve been close in every game so far, which is surprising considering they just traded away their star and have the youngest team in the NBA.

The Thunder have shown they are not going to roll over for anyone, so this is not an easy game, but it is one the Pelicans should win.

The Pelicans are the better team but if they don’t play hard or have mental lapses like they did against the Suns, the Thunder will smack them.

Here are the three matchups the New Orleans Pelicans need to dominate to ensure victory against the OKC Thunder.

New Orleans Pelicans: Can the bench contribute?

Matchup #1: Bench vs. Bench

The New Orleans Pelicans’ bench has been atrocious thus far outside of Josh Hart.

Nicolo Melli and Jaxson Hayes have been mostly unplayable, and J.J. Redick is mired in one of the worst shooting slumps of his career.

Unless the Pels make a trade, they are going to need Redick to start hitting shots because the bench has trouble scoring without him, which puts a lot of o pressure on Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson to shoulder the scoring load.

One of the role players has to step up, whether it is Redick, Eric Bledsoe, Hart or someone else, someone other than B.I., Zion and Lonzo has to start scoring.

This would be a perfect game for Melli to break out of his slump, as the OKC bench is full of perimeter bigs who Melli matches up well with.

If Melli gets dominated by Mike Muscala and rookie Aleksej Pokusevski then it is time to pull the plug on his minutes forever.

This is a test for the Pelicans’ bench, which needs to prove it can contribute to winning basketball before changes have to be made.