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New Orleans Pelicans v Phoenix Suns Photo by Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images

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Game Preview: Suns head to the Big Easy hoping to avenge February 25 loss

You don’t need to remind the Suns that the Pelicans beat them by 15 last time they met.

What: Phoenix Suns (54-14) @ New Orleans Pelicans (28-40)

When: 5:00 p.m. AZ Time

Where: Smoothie King Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana

Watch: Bally Sports Arizona/NBATV

Listen: 98.7 FM

DraftKings Betting Odds: Suns are 5.5 point favorites tonight, per DraftKings


The Suns head back out on the road, a place they will get familiar with for the remainder of the regular season, as they head to the Big Easy to face a feisty Pelicans team. 10 of the team’s final 14 games will occur away from the Footprint Center. This shouldn’t be a big deal for the team with the best road record in the NBA and could actually serve as an opportunity to unite prior to the playoffs.

The Pelicans, who came out of the break looking like world beaters by winning their first four games – including a 15-point victory over the Suns – have come back down to Earth after losing 4 of their last 5 games. Yes, they beat the Houston Rockets on Sunday night by 25, but it is the Rockets.

Starting Lineups

UPDATE: C.J. McCollum will be available to play, and likely start.

Uniform Tracker

Out/Injured

Phoenix:

  • Dario Saric (knee) is OUT
  • Frank Kaminsky (knee soreness) is OUT
  • Chris Paul (thumb) is OUT
  • Cameron Johnson (thigh contusion) is OUT

New Orleans:

  • Zion Williamson (foot) is OUT
  • Kira Lewis, Jr. (knee) is OUT
  • CJ McCollum (health and safety protocols) is QUESTOINABLE
  • Larry Nance, Jr. (knee) is OUT
  • Brandon Ingram (hamstring) is QUESTOINABLE

What to Watch For

21 is the number with New Orleans, as they enter the game with the 21st overall offensive (110.7), defensive (112.5), and net rating (-1.7). Phoenix, conversely, possesses the 4th best offensive rating (114.2), 2nd best defensive rating (106.2), and best net rating in the NBA (+8.0).

The Pelicans may have CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram, but they may not as well. If they do, you get two stellar offensive talents who combine for 59.7 points-a-game. The Pelicans are 5-5 in games in which both have played and, when both are on the court, the team is a +21.

If they don’t, the Pelicans’ depth takes a big hit. That being said, the Pelicans can go big by putting 3rd year forward/center Jaxson Haynes in at the four. This could potentially force Monty Williams to play some JaVale McGee/Deandre Ayton lineups and/or use more Bismack Biyombo to counter their size.

That is the beauty of the 2021-22 Suns: their depth and versatility. If Willie Green wants to play with size, Phoenix can match. If they want to go small, again, Phoenix can match. It isn’t about imposing your will, it’s about beating you at what you think you’re better at.

Fun Fact

The Phoenix Suns have played the New Orleans Pelicans 30 total times. Both teams have won 15 times a piece.

The Suns have played the franchise 67 total times, but 30 came when they were the New Orleans Hornets and 7 came when they were the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets.

Keys to a Suns Win

The Suns’ most recent memory of the Pelicans was that of a team that crushed them on the glass, out rebounding Phoenix on February 25 by 16. New Orleans will test your resolve in the rebounding department as they are 3rd in the league in offensive rebounding and 10th overall. You can attribute plenty of those boards to the efforts of Jonas Valanciunas, who averages 11.4 rebounds, 3.1 of which come via the offensive glass.

Valanciunas vs. Ayton will be where our eyes will gravitate, especially considering Jonas dominated Ayton in their last matchup. Valanciunas 17 rebounds…Ayton 5. Deandre has averaged 13.0 rebounds in the past four games, so we will see if his aggressive tendency continues.

Rebounding matters, and they will determine who wins this one.

Prediction

Devin Booker noted after beating the Miami Heat last week that the team was motivated to do so by acknowledging what Miami did the last time they were in Phoenix. The Suns are very well aware of what occurred the last time these two teams met. Expect them to exact revenge.

DraftKings has the Suns a 5-point favorite, but the final spread will likely be much bigger.

Suns 125, Pelicans 107

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

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