Thunder Ignore Doubts, Sweep Pelicans in Playoffs

Oklahoma City Thunder playoff sweep

Thunder dismisses concerns about youth and inexperience, sweeps Pelicans in first-round playoffs

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — With doubts swirling about their youth and playoff experience, the Oklahoma City Thunder silenced critics with a resounding sweep of the New Orleans Pelicans.

“We don’t pay attention to that noise,” remarked Thunder forward Jalen Williams. “We’re here to compete, regardless of age.”

Entering the playoffs with an average age of less than 24, the Thunder defied expectations under coach Mark Daigneault, recently named NBA Coach of the Year.

“Our team is mature and dedicated,” Daigneault emphasized. “We have a unique group of individuals.”

Their maturity shone brightly in a defensive showcase, holding the Pelicans to 92 points or fewer in each game.

“We executed our game plan exceptionally well defensively,” Daigneault praised. “We stayed true to ourselves throughout the series.”

Securing the top seed in the Western Conference with 57 wins, the Thunder overcame the 49-win Pelicans, despite the absence of star forward Zion Williamson due to injury.

“Losing Williamson changed their dynamics,” Daigneault acknowledged. “But they pushed us in various ways.”

Thunder guard Lu Dort solidified his defensive prowess, limiting Brandon Ingram to below-average scoring.

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In contrast, offensive leaders Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Williams thrived, supported by contributions from Josh Giddey and rookie Chet Holmgren.

While Game 1 was a narrow victory, the Thunder dominated Games 2 and 3 before securing a hard-fought win on the road to close out the series.

Facing a rejuvenated Pelicans crowd in the fourth quarter of Game 4, the Thunder rallied with an 18-2 run, spurred by tenacious defense and clutch shooting.

With the series sweep, the Thunder now await the outcome of the Los Angeles Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks series.

“We never doubted our abilities,” declared Thunder guard Josh Giddey. “We believe in the talent we possess.”

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