This Western Conference confrontation has one team which is reeling and looking towards the future and another all of the sudden which is trying to hang on to a playoff position after being among the largest surprises this season.
New Orleans Seeking Answers While Short-Handed
From Jan. 24 thru Feb. 7, the Pelicans had found a way to adjust without forward Ryan Anderson and guard Jrue Holiday and were a genuinely amazing 6-2 SU and ATS in that stretch.
However, since that time the Pelicans have not taken flight and lost seven of eight (1-5-2 ATS), including their last five in a row.
New Orleans is now in the second contest of a five-game road trip after losing at Dallas 108-89.
The Pelicans problems revolve around the fact without Anderson and Holiday, they seldom are able to dictate the kind of tempo they want and those bloggers which keep a close eye on this team also put a good share of the blame on coach Monty Williams, who they feel is not assembling the best matchups on the floor to start games or within a contest against a given an opponent.
Most any NBA basketball handicapper will agree there is truth in this belief, because New Orleans final scores tend to be higher against teams that play at a faster pace and lower against those that run down the shot clock.
A potential key in this battle when surveying the betting odds is the Pelicans are 18-35 ATS against teams which convert 36 percent or more of their three-point shots.
Are the Suns Starting to Sink?
At the All-Star break Phoenix was 30-21 and the best bet in the NBA at a sensational 33-17-1 ATS and they came out of the gate on fire with three consecutive wins and covers and were in the No. 6 slot in their conference.
Because this is the West, any groupings of wins and losses can alter the standings swiftly and off the Suns home losses to Houston and Minnesota, they fell to eighth in the West and continued to slide with a nasty 109-86 drubbing at Utah on Wednesday.
While it could just be an anomaly, Phoenix was decidedly outplayed in the fourth quarter of both home losses, 32-19 by the Rockets and 35-20 by the Timberwolves (Even 31-22 vs. the Jazz). In each case, the defense was pathetic both on the perimeter and in the paint, which left coach Jeff Hornacek with a disturbed look on his face.
In addition, with the outcome still in doubt in both home contests, after scoring with relative ease most of the game, the offensive execution was stymied late as the opposition stepped out on pick and rolls, taking away dribble penetration and forced passes to other players which led to quick off target shots.
Maybe it was the level of competition against two clubs that were playing well, nevertheless, it bears watching for those daily going over the NBA odds.
Betting Odds and Scheduling
The line on this confrontation was released just this morning because of the uncertainty of the Pelicans Anthony Davis (listed as doubtful with a bum shoulder) and the Suns guard Goran Dragic, who sprained his ankle again in the last game at Utah. Chances are Dragic will give it a go and sportsbooks opened Phoenix at -7, with a total of 203.
New Orleans finishes out the road trip with games at the Clippers, Sacramento and back to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers in four days.
After this tilt, Phoenix next plays at home against Atlanta on Sunday, but next week will be very important for the Suns. They will host the L.A. Clippers and Oklahoma City and travel to Golden State and to the Clips. Wow!
Head to Head Meetings
Phoenix has won and covered both meetings this season and is 3-2 (2-3 ATS) hosting New Orleans when they visit the desert. Four of the past five contests in Phoenix have gone Under the number and the SU winner has beaten the oddsmakers in the last four tries.
Further injuries are complicating this battle for making NBA picks. Phoenix is playing out of sorts and though I expect them to win, especially without Davis for New Orleans, I’m not convinced they will cover the number.
NBA Free Pick – New Orleans plus the points