Pelicans vs. Suns Odds
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Suns were the best team in the NBA pretty much all season long, and they looked the part in Game 1.
Phoenix never really took it out of third gear and never needed to. The Suns led 28-16 at the end of the first quarter and led by 19 at the half.
New Orleans had just 34 points at that point in the game, and though the Pelicans made a predictable second half push, it never really felt like the Suns were threatened, and it looked like they never thought so either.
In the end, the Suns won comfortably, 110-99, and a final meaningless bucket secured the cover, too. It certainly looks like Phoenix is well in control of the series, and at -500 on the moneyline, the Suns are an implied 83% to win this game.
But can the Pelicans make it interesting in Game 2?
Pels Don’t Matchup Great With Suns
The Pelicans closed the season with a 20-14 record since the start of February. That includes a pair of play-in victories just to get this dance with Phoenix, and it includes a 14-5 record with CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram in the lineup.
During that stretch, the Pelicans led the league in steals and turnovers forced. They’ve also been an elite rebounding team all season long, especially on the offensive glass.
Those two standout traits have defined New Orleans, as it crawled all the way back from a 1-12 hole to start the season. Those same two traits are why I thought the Pelicans were drawing dead in this series.
Everyone knows the Suns aren’t going to turn the ball over, not with Chris Paul and Devin Booker out there running the show. The Suns are also one of the league’s best rebounding teams — they’re top-five on the defensive glass.
In theory, that should mute the two standout Pelicans traits and really neuter any opportunity.
That was not the case in Game 1, though. The turnovers were not there, but the offensive rebounds surely were. Jonas Valanciunas had 13 himself — and that was just on the offensive end. He finished the game with 25 boards, and the Pelicans — as a team — racked up 25 offensive rebounds.
The Pels got 95 shots in Game 1, a huge number and 17 more than the Suns. This is not a particularly efficient team on either end, but if you get 17 more shots up than your opponent, you’re going to have a chance in any game. It’s even better if you shoot 39% on 3s, like the Pelicans did in Game 1.
Why, then, did New Orleans still lose by double digits? Because the offense is inefficient and the Suns are a terrific defensive team.
New Orleans doesn’t shoot many 3s, so that high percentage is somewhat deceptive. The Pelicans do shoot a ton of 2s, and they were awful doing so in Game 1. The Pels were a horrendous 27-of-72 inside the arc — just 37.5% on 2s.
Even with its good 3-point shooting, New Orleans finished with an ugly 42.6% Effective Field Goal Percentage, compared to over 60% for Phoenix. That’s how you lose a game in which you outshoot your opponent by 17 shots.
Suns Don’t Waver From Their Course
We already know what the Suns are by now. They are the model of efficiency and consistency on both ends of the court.
Phoenix finished the season top-five in both Offensive and Defensive Rating. The Suns ranked top-four in Effective Field Goal Percentage at both ends.
They’re elite shooters on 2s, 3s and at the line. They don’t turn it over. They’re terrific on the glass. The defense communicates and rotates well, and Deandre Ayton was a monster defensively in Game 1. CP3 and Book run the show on offense. This is a well-oiled, possible championship machine.
The Suns went 33-5 in the regular season against sub-.500 teams, with two of those losses meaningless games in the final week and one early in the season against a then-loaded Portland squad.
In other words, Phoenix was nearly invincible against subpar teams. And like it or not, even after their inspired run-in to the postseason, that’s still what the Pelicans are.
The Suns are superior to New Orleans in almost every way.
The Suns led the league in Net Rating. They had the best record in the NBA at home. They’re nearly invincible in the clutch, just in case the game does end up close somehow.
It would be a major upset for New Orleans to win a game in Phoenix. The only real question is whether the Pelicans can cover and how to play this inflated spread.
The Suns finished the regular season 20-20 ATS against sub-.500 teams, per BetLabs, failing to cover four of their final five.
This is a high line, and we saw how close the Pelicans got to coming through with the back door in Game 1. The metrics for New Orleans say this is a second-half team, especially in the third quarter.
The Suns should establish a lead again early and get the job done late, but it could be a little sloppy in between, and we may not want to play around with the late back door possibility.
I’ve got two angles for this game, accordingly.
If you want to play a side, I like the Suns — in the first half. Remember, the Suns won the first two quarters by 12 and seven in Game 1. You can play Phoenix -5.5 to get the early lead, take your money, and not have to worry about the late cover. I like that much better than the full game.
I also like the Pelicans team under 105.5 points. This team got 25 offensive rebounds in Game 1, shot 39% beyond the arc, racked up 95 shots, and still couldn’t even crack 100 points.
New Orleans has too many one-way guys and it’s a losing equation. Either it goes with defense-only options like Herb Jones and Jaxson Hayes and can’t score, or they turn to Devonte’ Graham and others who can’t defend. I just don’t trust the Pels to score enough.
There’s also still real value on the series.
You can bet the Suns series line at -2.5 on DraftKings at -265. That’s a lot of juice, and it implies a 72.6% chance that the Suns win this in four or five games.
In other words, to lose that bet, the Pelicans need to win two games somehow. Do you see that happening? I sure don’t, and I certainly don’t give it a 27.4% chance of happening.
There’s still a little value on a Suns sweep too, at +170 at FanDuel. Remember, the moneyline implies around an 83% chance of a Phoenix win here. That puts the Suns up 2-0.
Unless you really think the Suns lose this one, that means you basically get them at +170 as a road Game 3 moneyline underdog in a matchup in which Phoenix will be solidly favored.
Win that one and the Pels go down 0-3 and start making summer plans, with Game 4 odds dropping precipitously.
This may not be the most exciting first round series, but there’s money to be made and value out there. You’ve got a few angles to pick from, but you want to back the Suns here.
Pick: Suns first half -5.5, Pels team total under 105.5, Suns -2.5 series -265