Pelicans vs. Thunder NBA expert prediction and odds for Game 1 of Western Conference Playoffs

Betting odds, pick and prediction for the New Orleans Pelicans-Oklahoma City Thunder matchup in the NBA playoffs on Sunday.
New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) warms up.
New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) warms up. / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans earned the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, but they lost Zion Williamson (hamstring) in the process heading into Sunday’s meeting with the No. 1-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder.

A young team, the Thunder are favored in this matchup but there are many signs in the futures market that show people aren’t taking the Thunder seriously as a title contender. Does that open the door for New Orleans to upset?

All four of the higher seeds won on Saturday in the NBA, but the Pels will look to pull off a late-night upset to flip this series. 

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Here’s a look at the odds and my best bet for this matchup: 

Pelicans vs. Thunder odds, spread and total 

Pelicans vs. Thunder how to watch

  • Date: Sunday, April 21
  • Time: 9:30 p.m. EST
  • Venue: Paycom Center
  • How to watch (TV): TNT
  • Pelicans record: 49-33
  • Thunder record: 57-25

Pelicans vs. Thunder injury reports

Pelicans injury report

  • Zion Williamson – out
  • Cody Zeller – available

Thunder injury report

  • No injuries to report

Pelicans vs. Thunder key players to watch

New Orleans Pelicans

Brandon Ingram: Brandon Ingram is playing just his third game back from injury, but he scored 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting in the team’s play-in win over the Kings on Friday night. If Ingram is back to his usual self, he’ll be the No. 1 option in this offense with Williamson out. 

Oklahoma City Thunder

Shai Gilgeous Alexander: The Pelicans have held one of the NBA’s best scorers in check this season. He’s scored less than 30 points in two of the three meetings, shooting under 50.0 percent from the field in each of them. Can New Orleans keep that up on Sunday? 

Pelicans vs. Thunder prediction and pick

This season, no team in the NBA has been better than the New Orleans Pelicans as a road underdog. 

New Orleans is 14-5-1 against the spread in that spot, and the team went 1-2 against OKC this season, covering this number in two of those three matchups.

While the Thunder are healthy, one has to wonder if there are some playoff jitters for a team that has very little playoff experience. Plus, the Pelicans have been playing all week, which may help them avoid the rust factor that the Thunder could have coming into this one.

I still think OKC wins this game, but the Pelicans are certainly live to cover with their defense, which ranks top 10 in the NBA. If they can slow SGA again, the Pels have a chance on Sunday. 

Pick: Pelicans +8.5 (-110)

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

Find Peter Dewey's NBA betting record here (futures included). You can also follow my daily plays on BetStamp here.