The New Orleans Pelicans come off of an upset of the Spurs Friday for just they second win of the season, but they must now guard against a letdown hosting the surging Suns Sunday.
The home team could be vulnerable Sunday evening after winning just its second game of the season in a major upset a couple of night ago as now the surging Phoenix Suns (7-5, 8-4 ATS) pay a visit to those New Orleans Pelicans (2-11, 4-9 ATS) at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA at 6:05 ET in a game available on FOX Sports - Arizona.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Phoenix as a tiny road underdog for this contest with the current line at +1½ with odds of -109.
Stunner Over the Spurs
The Pelicans has been reeling at 1-11 overall and on a five-game losing streak before almost inexplicably beating one of the best teams in the NBA seemingly out of the blue, knocking off the San Antonio Spurs 104-90 here at home on Friday. Thus, both New Orleans wins have come vs. Texas teams this season as their only other win came vs. the Dallas Mavericks on November 10th.
The Suns were off to a slow start this season at 3-4, but they have now been the winning NBA picks in four of their last five games to improve to 7-5, most recently winning on the road 114-107 over the Nuggets in Denver on Friday. Phoenix now looks to re-assume its dominance in this head-to-head series as it was the Pelicans who took two of the three meetings last season after the Suns had won each of the previous four meetings straight up.
Great Backcourt Play
The recent hot streak by the Suns has been keyed by very good guard play, which has been a staple in Phoenix for several years going back to when Goran Dragic was leading the show. Now it is Brandon Knight that comes off of a career high 38-point performance in the win in Denver while also adding 11 rebounds and six assists in a huge performance, while his backcourt mate Eric Bledsoe also chipped in with 22 points.
Bledsoe (22.8 points per game) and Knight (21.9) comprise one of the more potent backcourts in the NBA, as they are the main reasons the Suns are third in the league in scoring with 105.8 points per game despite not having a dominant, go-to big man in the frontcourt. It also helps to be ranked fourth in the league in three-point shooting at 38.5 percent.
Now, the Suns are not renowned for their defense but they do have one premier defender on their roster right now in former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, and he should play a key role in this game also as he will undoubtedly be tasked with locking down the Pelicans’ superstar Anthony Davis.
Sure, Davis was able to take his team on his back vs. San Antonio with 20 points and 18 rebounds, but the Pelicans also received a game-high 30 points from Ryan Anderson off the bench, which is not something that can be counted upon on a nightly basis.
And New Orleans is a wound team right now, as Jrue Holiday is questionable for this game with an ongoing leg injury while Tyreke Evans, Kendrick Perkins, Norris Cole and Quincy Pondexter have all been out with injuries for a while and continue to be.
You may recall that when the Pelicans were at full strength, they made the NBA Playoffs last season along with the entire rest of the five-team Southwest Division. However, for all of the MVP-type numbers that Davis is capable of putting up, New Orleans simply lacks the quality depth to make up for the rash of injuries that it has had, and the 2-11 straight up record and 4-9 ATS mark reflect that.
Taking Care of Conference Business
Finally, the Suns are currently of a 4-1 ATS run overall and they have taken care of business inside the Western Conference for the most part, going 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 conference games. Meanwhile, the Pelicans have not had much of an advantage inside the Smoothie King Center lately with that upset of the Spurs notwithstanding, as the stunner still leaves New Orleans just 2-5 ATS in its last seven home games.
We expect New Orleans to come out a bit flat here after such a great and surprising performance, especially with a still depleted roster, so look for Phoenix to take advantage and stay hot when it visits the Bayou on Sunday.
NBA Pick: Suns +1½ (-109)