Chet Holmgren issues Pelicans warning to Thunder for Game 3

Chet Holmgren isn’t relaxing after a dominant Game 3 win over the Pelicans

Thunder rookie Chet Holmgren with Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum and Herb Jones of the Pelicans

In the immediate aftermath of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 124-92 Game 2 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, rookie center Chet Holmgren, who scored 26 points and pulled down 7 rebounds in the win, grabbed the microphone and praised teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the league’s MVP. But once the euphoria of the win and Holmgren’s historic 1st half had finally worn off, the young Thunder, who have been doubted all year long and not taken seriously at all as the #1 seed in the Western Conference, proved that they weren’t going to make the mistake of failing to take their opponent seriously in Round 1.

After nearly sneaking out of Game 1 with a win in Oklahoma City, the Pelicans now stare into an 0-2 hole, just a Game 3 loss at home away from finding themselves in what has historically been an insurmountable 0-3 deficit. And because no team in league history has ever been able to overcome an 0-3 deficit in the NBA Playoffs, Chet Holmgren knows that the Thunder are going to get the Pelicans’ best punch in Game 3.

“They’re a team with their backs against the wall,” Holmgren said after the game, per Brandon Rahbar of Daily Thunder. “They’re gonna come ready to play Game 3.”

The biggest issue for the Pelicans in Game 2 was a complete and total collapse of a defense that held Oklahoma City to just 94 points in Game 1 and was seventh in the league during the regular season in Defensive Rating. In Game 2, the Thunder torched the Pels defense, shooting 59 percent from the field, 48 percent from the three-point line, and 90 percent from the free throw line on their way to a 124 point outburst, the second-highest scoring total we’ve seen thus far in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs.

The fact of the matter is, if you allow your opponent to reach nearly 60-50-90 shooting splits from the field in any game, you likely aren’t walking out with a victory, and certainly not when you’re on the road inside one of the loudest arenas in the NBA. But now the Pelicans face the possibility of failing to get off to a hot start in Game 3, finding themselves in yet another 1st quarter double-digit hole, and potentially opening the door for Boo Birds to make their way into the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, which is never an ideal spot to find yourselves in.

Granted, it’s only been two games, but so far, the Thunder have answered any and all questions regarding their Playoff mettle, winning both in dominant fashion and in a game that went right down to the wire.

 

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