It was expected that Phoenix and New Orleans would show marked improvement this season. That has happened for the Suns, not the Pelicans. Will both teams continue on the same path tonight? Phoenix has won and covered three straight and that came on the heels of posting a 1-5 SU and ATS record. Coach Monty Williams publicly got on his team about lacking the right professional attitude and they have responded as he wanted.
Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Pelicans
Smoothie King Center
New Orleans continues to founder having lost 10 of 13 and have been only slightly better for its backers at 4-9 ATS. The Pelicans have dropped two in a row and are and need a victory to at least have a successful five-game homestand. William Hill and other betting sites opened Phoenix as two-point road favorites and they have risen to -3.5. Let’s further examine who might have the edge.
Suns Depth and Growth Leading the Way
When Phoenix (11-8 SU & ATS) dropped three straight home games, for eight quarters and one overtime, and was without their best player Devon Booker. The next contest after losing to Denver, the Suns were not only pesky to a boiling hot bunch of Nuggets, they pushed them to two OT’s and lost primarily because Deandre Ayton fouled out, leaving no big body to contain center Nikola Jokic. Next followed an ugly loss to Oklahoma City and Suns fans were thinking here we go again.
Heeding Williams’ words, Phoenix destroyed Golden State by 21 and went to Big D and swept Luka Doncic and the Mavericks and showed guile when things got tough.
We will be the first to admit, names like Langston Galloway, Abdel Nader and Frank Kaminsky are not going to draw a response of “Those Guys!”. Instead, more like “Who are those guys?”. However, when these players come off the bench, most nights they are an asset, not a detriment for the Suns. They have stood up when called upon and that is why a long losing streak didn’t ensue when Booker missed four-plus games.
Also, others in the starting lineup are expanding their games. Ayton has added the ability to find shooters when double-teamed. And Cameron Johnson is no longer passing the ball as the shot clock winds down in close games.
Pelicans Standing Around on Offense
New Orleans (7-12 SU & ATS) last season was third in the NBA in assists. Presently they are 22nd, down four from last year. Coach Stan Van Gundy’s offense is based on player and ball movement, but this group plays confused about what they are supposed to do or are not listening.
Van Gundy seems to understand the right approach because he doesn’t have a roster full of sharpshooters, with New Orleans is 28th in three-point accuracy and in turn takes the fourth-fewest shots behind the arc.
It’s what is done in front of that line that is the issue. Standard pick-and-rolls are too easily defended and once that breaks down, all eyes go to the dribbler, with no cutting or movement. This turns the offense into iso plays and while they are middle of the road in overall field goal percentage and 4th in attempted free throws, the Pelicans are 19th in offensive efficiency.
If this is something Van Gundy’s team needs to improve or pick it up on the other end of the floor; that’s not happening. New Orleans is 23rd in scoring defense and 25th in defensive efficiency. The only way this team improves is by running the offense properly, getting committed on defense and trying to follow coaching instructions. If not, they will continue to be a play against club versus the NBA odds.
The Point Spread Winner
In looking at various online betting sites, one would want to make a strong case for a home underdog. But it doesn’t always work out that way.
New Orleans is a proven loser at this time and attempting to forecast when they will step up is guesswork, not handicapping to win NBA picks.
Instead, when doing the research, the compelling argument is to follow Phoenix, especially away from the desert. The Suns are 10-1 ATS in road games having won three of their last four games and a sensational 13-2 ATS in the away uniforms playing a third time in five days. Cap that off with Williams point spread warriors 9-0 ATS in roadies after three or more consecutive wins the last three seasons. They get the call.
NBA Picks: Suns -3.5 at William Hill