Suns vs. Pelicans Odds, Preview, Prediction: Pace Suggests Play on Total
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns.
- The top two teams in the Western Conference go head-to-head as the Pelicans host the Suns on Friday night.
- The Suns were embarassed at home against the Celtics and are looking to get back on track in New Orleans.
- Tyler Schmidt previews the game and shares his best bet below.
Suns vs. Pelicans Odds
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
We expected the Phoenix Suns to be in this position, atop the Western Conference, but the emergence of the New Orleans Pelicans has been a pleasant surprise. These teams have the best and second-best records in the conference and will battle at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.
Despite coming off of back-to-back losses by an average of 23 points per game, the Suns are 2.5-point road favorites. Chris Paul, who missed a month of action, returned last game.
The Pelicans have won five straight and 10 of their past 12 games. This is their second meeting of the season against the Suns, who won 124-111 in the first matchup. Both teams have a positive record against the spread, so let’s look at the total for this matchup.
Chris Paul missed 14 straight games, which led to some massive performances from both Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Booker is averaging a career-high 27.9 points, which is also a team high, and making an average of 10 field goals per game. With Paul out, Booker scored over 40 points in three straight games last week.
Similar to Booker, Ayton was very productive in Paul’s absence and posted seven straight games with a double-double. Ayton has struggled recently, but is shooting 62.1% from the field this season and the Pelicans are allowing 48.6 points per game in the paint, which ranks right in the middle of the pack.
Paul returned Wednesday, but was disappointing as he had as many turnovers as points and assists in 24 minutes. Expect a better performance against his former team, but Paul has had a tough season thus far. The 37-year old point guard is averaging a career-low nine points per game and shooting an abysmal 36.6% from the field and 25.7% from behind the arc.
Cameron Johnson remains out with a knee injury, but that hasn’t slowed down the Suns momentum as Mikal Bridges and Torrey Craig have really stepped up. Bridges is averaging a career-high 15.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game and is shooting over 50% from the field for the fourth straight season. Craig, in his first season with the Suns, has scored double figures in seven of his past 10 games.
Overall, the Suns are relatively healthy entering this game. They have also beaten the Pelicans in nine of their past 12 games, including their 124-111 victory in late October. With Paul back, the Suns Pace does drop from 98.6 to 96.0 this season, but they have a 7-4 record with him.
New Orleans Pelicans
Winners of five straight games, the Pelicans have succeeded despite a plethora of injuries. Brandon Ingram and Herbert Jones have already been ruled out and Jose Alvarado is listed as questionable.
During the win streak, the Pelicans have held their opponents to just 102.4 points per game. However, not having Ingram, Jones, and potentially Alvarado may hurt the defense as all three have a positive Defensive Real Plus/Minus this season.
Ingram is the biggest loss for the Pelicans on the offensive side of the ball as he is averaging over 20 points for the fourth straight season. The Pelicans Offensive Rating drops from 118.3 to 114 and their points scored drops from 117.1 to 114.2 per game when Ingram is out.
Having Zion Williamson healthy has been a big boost to this Pelicans roster. He leads the team with an average of 23.9 points per game and is shooting 59.6% from the field. Williamson missed the Pelicans first meeting against the Suns, but this is a tough matchup for him given the Suns rank eighth in Rebounding Percentage and are just outside the top 10 in points allowed in the paint.
After missing four games with an injury, CJ McCollum has struggled in his first three games back. During that time, McCollum is averaging 6.7 points per game and is shooting 8-of-33 (24%) from the field and 1-of-8 (12.5%) from behind the arc.
The Suns rank sixth in Defensive Rating, allowing just 109.9 points per game. The Pelicans are 13-11 against the spread and have played great lately, but may struggle offensively against Phoenix.
Not only is this a tough spot for the Pelicans, but the Suns may be slowing this game down with Paul starting at point guard. In 11 games with Paul, the Suns are playing at a much slower Pace, scoring 111.1 points per game with him compared to 119.4 per game without him.
Taking a side on this tightly projected game is risky, but there are a lot of trends pointing toward the under. The under has hit in four of the Pelicans past five games, and we can expect that trend to continue with two defenses that rank in the top six in Defensive Rating. Take this under down to 225 points.
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