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Suns vs. Pelicans Odds, Picks & Predictions: Phoenix Has Edge in Matchup of Struggling Teams

Suns vs. Pelicans Odds, Picks & Predictions: Phoenix Has Edge in Matchup of Struggling Teams article feature image

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: The Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker, and Chris Paul.

  • The New Orleans Pelicans host the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.
  • Both teams got off to hot starts and have been mostly struggling ever since.
  • Keep an eye on the status of Steven Adams as gametime approaches.

Suns vs. Pelicans Odds

Suns Odds -2
Pelicans Odds +2
Moneyline -130 / +110
Over/Under 224
Time 9:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Tuesday evening and via PointsBet.

Early in the season, this looked like a potential playoff matchup. The Suns started out 5-1 while the Pelicans were 4-2 out of the gates, with both teams feeling pretty good about themselves.

It hasn’t been as pretty a picture since that hot start. Phoenix is 6-7 since and has stumbled through some injuries and a week of games postponed because of health protocols. The Pelicans have been even worse, 3-10 since that nice opening stretch, and their last six losses have come by nine or more points.

Wednesday night is a chance for both teams to get things back on track. So in a coin-flip matchup, will it be Phoenix or New Orleans that gets the W?

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Phoenix Suns

Early on, it felt like the Suns might be a genuinely great team, maybe one of the best in the West outside of the LA teams. For a couple weeks, we spoke about Phoenix like we view the Utah Jazz right now. They had that perfect 8-0 bubble and a hot start, and they looked like they belonged.

Then the swoon came, along with the missed week of games, and it feels like we’ve sort of stopped talking about the Suns. And though Phoenix probably isn’t in that top circle of contenders right now, the Suns do look like a top-10 team in most overall metrics, and that’s even with some missing depth along the way.

Phoenix ranks fifth in defensive efficiency. Chris Paul sets the tone, while Mikal Bridges has been an All-Defense guy, chasing down the top opposing perimeter player each night with tenacity. Deandre Ayton continues to get better and better on D, too. The Suns limit threes and cut down on assists, pushing opponents to play isolation and play in the paint and inside the arc. That makes this an interesting matchup, since that’s exactly what the Pelicans like to do.

While the Suns’ defense has been pretty good, the offense remains hit or miss. The Suns are one of the best free-throw shooting teams in the league but rarely get to the line, ranking second-to-last in free-throw rate. They are moving up the ranks in three-pointers attempted but should still push further in that direction. The Suns don’t really try for offensive rebounds, despite being an elite defensive rebounding team, opting to get back on defense instead. That helps the D, but the lack of putbacks and freebies at the line mean this offense isn’t getting many easy points.

Devin Booker returned Monday after missing four games injured, and the Suns really need to get Booker going to reignite this offense. His scoring is down four PPG this season and his assist rate is way down while his turnovers are up. Booker is never going to be a plus defender, so Phoenix needs him to make a huge impact on offense to be the star he’s supposed to be. Booker struggled a lot the first six games of the season but then played like an All-Star for five games before a few more off games and then the games missed. I wonder if he was already laboring through injury before the time off. He did score 24 on Monday in his return and hit the game-winning three, so maybe that will get him going.

The Suns had moved Cameron Johnson into the starting lineup with Booker out and kept him there even when Booker returned, pushing Jae Crowder to the bench. Crowder was miserable Monday, shooting 1-of-9 and playing only 15 minutes. The Suns’ bench unit was killing it early in the season, but has been a problem lately. Phoenix really misses Cameron Payne and Dario Šarić off the bench, and it looks like both are still out in this one. Good bench units have really hurt Phoenix.

New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans have fallen to 7-12 and just don’t have a roster that makes a ton of sense. We’ll see whether Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson work together long term, but right now, it sure looks like they’re surrounded by guys who don’t fit very well. The Pelicans have zero spacing on offense and haven’t figured things out on D.

Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams were new offseason additions who should have helped the defense, but they haven’t helped enough and have seriously gummed up the offense. Lonzo Ball is still slumping, too, and now appears to be on the trade market. New Orleans feels like a team in transition.

For now, the team is below average on both offense and defense. The Pelicans can’t shoot to save their lives. They rank 28th in three-point percentage and dead last in free-throw percentage. The offense is also turning it over a ton while not generating many assists. They draw free throws well and are a terrific rebounding team, but that’s about the end of the big picture strengths. The defense gives up the most three-point attempts in the league at 41.6 per game and doesn’t have a good shot profile.

Be sure to pay attention to the injury news with Adams, who is listed as questionable and missed the last game with a calf injury. While Adams clogs up the lane, the Pelicans’ defense has been mostly disastrous without him. The pairing of Williamson and Jaxson Hayes protecting the rim has been horrendous, so if Adams is out, this could be a get-right game for the Suns’ offense.

Williamson’s usage is also up 4.4% with Adams out, so he could be in for a bigger game if Adams is sidelined. With Phoenix pushing opponents to play inside the arc, I’ll look for a big game from Williamson. I’ve been playing the over on his points prop a lot lately and will certainly look at that again here. Williamson continues to put up great, efficient scoring numbers. He just isn’t getting much help on this team outside of Ingram, and we’ve yet to see those two play great at the same time.

Suns-Pelicans Pick

I like the Suns a lot more than the Pelicans right now. It does feel like both teams are floundering a bit, but New Orleans is way more lost while Phoenix feels more like it’s just weathering the storm of a weird pandemic season. The Suns’ defense gives the team a much higher floor than New Orleans right now.

I’m keeping a close eye on the Adams news. If he is out, I really think this tilts strongly in Phoenix’s favor. Paul and Booker should be able to put Williamson, Hayes, and Nicolò Melli in the blender on pick-and-rolls all game. This could also be a nice game for Ayton if Adams is out. I’ve been waiting for the Suns to get him some more easy buckets at the rim, and he should have plenty of opportunities to do that in this one.

I love Phoenix here if Adams is out, but I like them even if he plays. I just don’t see New Orleans scoring much here with their lack of spacing and the Suns grinding on defense. Phoenix is starting to get healthy again, and a soft schedule this week could get them a few wins and put them back on the national radar.

I think this line rises before tip, so I’m grabbing the Suns at -2 while it’s available. I’d play to -3.5.

Pick: Suns -2 (PB)

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