New Orleans Pelicans vs Phoenix Suns 4/17/22: Starting Lineups, Matchup Preview, Betting Odds, Live Stream
New Orleans Pelicans vs Phoenix Suns Matchup Preview (4/17/22)
The 8th seed New Orleans Pelicans (36-46) face the 1st seed Phoenix Suns (64-18) in the First Round of the Western Conference playoffs. New Orleans made a huge splash at the deadline by acquiring CJ McCollum from the Portland Trail Blazers. The move has paid off wonderfully for the Pelicans, as they own the 9th Offensive Rating and 13th Defensive Rating since his first game on February 10th. The Pelicans claimed the 8th seed after defeating the Spurs 113-103 and the Clippers 105-101. New Orleans held a 10-point lead at halftime against the Clippers, but Los Angeles dominated the third quarter. Facing a 10-point deficit entering the 4th quarter, the Pelicans didn’t blink and won the quarter 31-17. Zion Williamson has missed the entire season, but his status is murky. He’s not expected to return, but it’s certainly not out of the question. With Zion out, the Pelicans will continue to start Jaxson Hayes at power forward.
The Suns blazed through the regular season with ease. They finished with the 5th Offensive Rating and 3rd Defensive Rating while playing at the 8th fastest pace. The Suns boast an efficient offense; they were 1st in FG%, 9th in 3PT%, 7th in FT%, and 3rd in AST/TO ratio. Phoenix can score in any area of the court, including the midrange. Booker and Paul excel at midrange shots, Ayton handles the paint, and Bridges/Crowder space the floor. The defense is versatile, disciplined, and experienced. The Suns were 4th in opponent points off turnovers, 6th in opponent points off fast breaks, and 8th in opponent points from the paint. If teams can keep the game close, the Suns quickly dismantled them during clutch minutes (5 minutes left and within 5 points). They were 33-9 in clutch games with an astounding 33.4 Net Rating. Phoenix will be without Dario Saric, who has missed the entire season. Landry Shamet injured his foot in practice on Friday, so he is a game time decision.
New Orleans Pelicans vs Phoenix Suns Betting Odds
The Suns are 3-1 against the Pelicans this season. The teams are 1-1 since the McCollum trade, but Chris Paul didn’t play in either of those games. Phoenix won by 12, 13, and 16 points, while the Pelicans won by 15. In four games, Devin Booker averaged 27 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 5 APG on 45.4 FG% and 35.4 3PT%. In two games, McCollum produced 26.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 6.5 APG on 57.1 FG% and 41.6 3PT%. For this game, the spread is at -10.5 Suns. I like the Suns to cruise in Game 1 and cover the spread. The Pelicans won’t be able to stop the Suns offense, while the Suns defense can limit the Pelicans. Phoenix looks determined to avenge their Finals loss last season, and they have the chemistry advantage over the Pelicans.
Phoenix can score 120-125 by themselves, which means the Pelicans would only need 101-106 points to hit over 225 total points. I like the over to hit here – I know Phoenix is going to score, and I trust the Pelicans offense more than their defense.
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Time: 9:00 PM ET
Arena: Footprint Center – Phoenix, AZ
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New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineup
New Orleans Pelicans Analysis
If the Pelicans are going to keep up with the Suns offense, they have to shoot the ball efficiently. Their defense cannot force enough turnovers to compensate, and they shouldn’t count on the Suns struggling on shot attempts. CJ McCollum can take over a game with his scoring and playmaking – look no further than his 32-point, 7-assist performance against the Spurs. Valanciunas will open up McCollum’s game because Valanciunas can either roll or pop after picking McCollum’s man. Paul and Ayton have to defend against multiple variations derived from the pick, which only allows the Pelicans more options. Brandon Ingram dominated the play-in games. In two games, he averaged 28.5 PPG on 62.5 FG%. If Ingram can isolate his defender and hit jump shots, the Suns defense will be stretched thin. They will have to defend the range of McCollum, Valanciunas, and Herb Jones, while worrying about Hayes in the dunker’s spot.
Inserting Trey Murphy III instead of Jaxson Hayes would detract from the defense, but Murphy’s shooting would boost the offense. He’s a lethal spot up shooter who would force Booker to stick to him no matter what happens. The offense would also have the ball moving rapidly, as McCollum, Ingram, Jones, and Valanciunas can all find the open man. Defensively, the Pelicans should place Ingram on Bridges and Herb Jones on Devin Booker. Jones has shined as a rookie and can guard multiple positions. He averaged 1.7 SPG and 0.8 BPG because he is always in the right place at the right time.
Phoenix Suns Starting Lineup
Phoenix Suns Analysis
The Pelicans are 24th defending the pick and roll ball handler and 22nd defending the roll man. Considering the Suns roster Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton, the Pelicans should be terrified. Paul is a master orchestrating the offense because he’s seen every defense the opponent can throw at him. Pelicans defenders cannot help with Booker (38.3 3PT%), Bridges (36.9 3PT%), and Crowder (34.8 3PT%) waiting on the perimeter. If the Pelicans continue to start Jaxson Hayes at power forward, the Suns can use Crowder as the pick setter. Hayes is a paint protector who will not be able to move laterally on the perimeter with Paul and Booker.
Defensively, the Suns assign Bridges to Ingram and Booker to Herb Jones. Bridges will make an All-Defensive team this year because of his versatility, anticipation, and length. Slowing down Ingram’s scoring and facilitating is a must for the Suns. Jones is an underrated passer, but he’s not a scoring threat who is capable of dropping 25 points at this stage of his career. The Suns can hide Booker – the weakest defender in the starting lineup – on Jones and allow him to conserve energy.