Pelicans vs. Suns Odds
|The odds of the pelicans||+9.5|
|Ratings of the suns||-9.5|
|More less||221.5 (-110/-110)|
|Weather||10 p.m. ET|
The Suns have been the best team in the NBA pretty much all season, and they played the role in Game 1.
Phoenix never really got him out of third gear and never needed him. The Suns led 28-16 at the end of the first quarter and led by 19 at halftime.
New Orleans had just 34 points at this point in the game, and although the Pelicans had a predictable second-half surge, it never really looked like the Suns were under threat, and it looked like they had never thought of it either.
In the end, the Suns won comfortably, 110-99, and a meaningless final bucket secured the cover as well. It certainly looks like Phoenix is in control of the series well, and at -500 on the moneyline, the Suns are 83% implied to win this game.
But can the Pelicans make it interesting in Game 2?
Pels don’t match suns very well
The Pelicans closed the season with a 20-14 record since early February. That includes a pair of play-in wins just to get that dance with Phoenix, and that includes a 14-5 record with CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram in the lineup.
During that streak, the Pelicans led the league in forced steals and turnovers. They’ve also been an elite rebounding team throughout the season, especially on the offensive glass.
These two standout traits defined New Orleans as they came back from a 1-12 hole to start the season. Those same two traits are why I thought pelicans drew dead in this series.
Everyone knows the Suns won’t pass the buck, not with Chris Paul and Devin Booker running the show. The Suns are also one of the best rebounding teams in the league – they’re top-five on the defensive glass.
In theory, this should cut off the Pelicans’ two standout traits and really neutralize any opportunity.
That wasn’t the case in Game 1, however. Turnovers weren’t there, but offensive rebounds sure were. Jonas Valanciunas had 13 himself – and that was just on the attacking side. He finished the game with 25 boards and the Pelicans — as a team — racked up 25 offensive rebounds.
The Pels had 95 shots in Game 1, a huge number and 17 more than the Suns. They’re not a particularly effective team on either side, but if you get 17 more shots than your opponent, you’ll have a chance in any game. It’s even better if you shoot 39% on 3s, like the pelicans did in game 1.
Why, then, did New Orleans lose double digits again? Because the offense is ineffective and the Suns are a formidable defensive team.
New Orleans doesn’t shoot many 3s, so that high percentage is somewhat misleading. The Pelicans To do firing a ton of 2s, and they were awful doing it in game one. The Pels were a horrible 27 of 72 inside the arc – just 37.5% over 2s.
Even with its good 3-point shot, New Orleans finished with an effective field goal percentage of 42.6%, compared to Phoenix’s over 60%. This is how you lose a game in which you outrun your opponent by 17 moves.
The suns don’t stray from their course
We already know what the Suns are now. They are the model of efficiency and consistency on both sides of the pitch.
Phoenix finished the season in the top five in both offensive and defensive rankings. The Suns ranked in the top four in effective field goal percentage at both ends.
They are snipers on 2s, 3s and on the line. They don’t return it. They are great on glass. The defense communicates and turns well, and Deandre Ayton was a monster defensively in Game 1. CP3 and Book run the show on offense. It’s a well-oiled possible championship machine.
The Suns went 33-5 in the regular season against teams under .500, with two such games meaningless last week and one early in the season against a then-loaded Portland team.
In other words, Phoenix was nearly invincible against mediocre teams. And like it or not, even after their inspired playoff debut, that’s still what the Pelicans are.
The Suns are superior to New Orleans in almost every way.
The Suns led the league in Net Rating. They had the best record in the NBA at home. They are nearly invincible in the clutch, just in case the game somehow ends.
It would be a major upset for New Orleans to win a game at Phoenix. The only real question is whether the Pelicans can cover and how to play that inflated spread.
The Suns finished the regular season 20-20 ATS against sub-.500 teams, per BetLabs, failing to cover four of their last five.
It’s a high line, and we saw just how far the Pelicans went through the backdoor in Game 1. New Orleans stats indicate they are a second half team, especially in the third quarter.
The Suns should reestablish a lead early and get the job done late, but it could be a bit sloppy between the two, and we might not want to play with the late backdoor possibility.
I have two angles for this game, accordingly.
If you want to play against a team, I like the Suns – in the first half. Remember, the Suns won the first two quarters by 12 and 7 in Game 1. You can play Phoenix -5.5 to get ahead, take your money, and not have to worry about late coverage. I like it much better than the full game.
I also like the Pelicans team under 105.5 points. This team had 25 offensive rebounds in Game 1, shot 39% from beyond the arc, had 95 shots and still couldn’t even break 100 points.
New Orleans has too many one-sided guys and it’s a losing equation. Either go with defense-only options like Herb Jones and Jaxson Hayes and can’t score, or they go to Devonte ‘Graham and others who can’t defend. I just don’t trust the Pels to score enough.
There is also always real value on the series.
You can bet the Suns series line at -2.5 on DraftKings at -265. That’s a lot of juice, and it implies a 72.6% chance the Suns will win this in four or five games.
In other words, to lose this bet, the Pelicans must win two games one way or another. Do you see this happening? I certainly don’t, and I certainly don’t give it a 27.4% chance of happening.
There’s still some value on a Suns sweep too, at +170 at FanDuel. Remember that the moneyline implies about an 83% chance of winning Phoenix here. That gives the Suns a 2-0 lead.
Unless you really think the Suns will lose this one, that means you basically get them at +170 as a Game 3 underdog on the road in a game where Phoenix will be heavily favored.
Win that one and the Pels go down 0-3 and start making plans for the summer, with Game 4 odds dropping precipitously.
It might not be the most exciting first-round series, but there is money to be had and value there. You have a few angles to choose from, but you want to support the Suns here.
To take: Suns first half -5.5, Pels team total under 105.5, Suns -2.5 series -265