Pelicans vs. Suns Odds, Pick, Prediction: Zion Williamson and New Orleans Will Dominate Inside (December 17)

Joe Dellera breaks down the NBA matchup between the New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns and shares his top betting pick.

Pelicans vs. Suns Odds

Pelicans Odds +140
Suns Odds -166
Over/Under 227.5
Time 9 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Pelicans head to Phoenix to take on the Suns for the third time in the last eight days. While the Suns took the first matchup of the season back in October, the Pelicans won both games this past week.

Who can take this pivotal game between two of the top teams in the West? Find a pick and prediction for this matchup between the Pelicans and Suns below.

>> Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds, track your bets and follow all of our experts’ picks.

Williamson and the Pelicans Will Control the Paint

The Pelicans have just two players listed on the injury report: Jose Alvarado (rib – Probable) and Brandon Ingram (toe – Out). While it’s likely Alvarado plays, the Pelicans have had relative success without Ingram, who has missed the team’s last nine games.

The Pelicans found success against the Suns by relentlessly attacking the paint with Zion Williamson. It sounds like an oversimplification, but Williamson dropped 35 points in both games–and that was with a healthy Deandre Ayton. He was a menace, and without Ayton available today, Williamson should have an even easier time against the likes of Bismack Biyombo and Jock Landale as his points prop of over 28.5 points (+100) is a strong play.

I noticed in the last matchup against the Suns that Phoenix started to double CJ McCollum when he received the ball. McCollum is not an unwilling passer – he logged seven assists last game, with the majority coming in the second half. He has nine, five and seven-assist games against Phoenix this season. His assists prop is set at 4.5 (-155), and I think it’s worth a look.

Can the Suns Survive Without Ayton?

The Suns have had a bit less luck with the injury bug and will be without Ayton (ankle), Cam Payne (foot), Duane Washington Jr. (hip) and Cam Johnson (knee). The combined loss of these players severely impacts the Suns’ depth, and Ayton’s absence in particular affects their defense.

Nonetheless, the Suns have played relatively well against the Pelicans, at least in terms of shot profile. They have the third-best eFG% against them this season and have been lethal at the rim and from 3. Ayton is a large part of that – the Suns shoot 5% better at the rim and 1.1% better from 3 with him on the floor, per Cleaning the Glass. He has a unique ability to help space the floor despite not being a stretch big.

As for the defense, in the games against the Pelicans this season, the Suns are allowing the Pels to shoot 75.9% at the rim. This is a sharp uptick from their regular season average of 66.2%. I struggle to see how the Suns will limit the Pelicans’ interior attack that is significantly better than whatever lineup the Clippers trotted out against them on Thursday night.

Pelicans-Suns Pick

This game pits two of the league’s best against each other. Both teams are among the top 10 in Adjusted Net Rating, Adjusted Offensive Rating and Adjusted Defensive Rating. However, the loss of Ayton is too much for the Suns to overcome in this matchup. Additionally, the Pelicans are adding Herb Jones back into the mix, and he should be the primary point of attack defender for Devin Booker.

The Pelicans have scored over 70 points in the paint in each of the last two matchups with Williamson in the lineup. Now, they get the opportunity to pick apart Biyombo and Landale inside.

The Pelicans are the better team right now. I’ll grab the points and the moneyline with them as a road dog.