Game Preview: Pelicans vs. Suns - April 9, 2014

Pelicans vs. Suns Game Preview

With five games remaining in the 2013-14 regular season, the New Orleans Pelicans will have a chance to impact the Western Conference playoff field on a regular basis, starting with Wednesday’s home game against the Phoenix Suns. Just seven days from the conclusion of the 82-game schedule, the Suns are in the midst of an intense race to qualify for the West playoffs, competing with the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies for one of the final two open postseason spots.

Following Wednesday’s game, the Pelicans will head out on a two-game road trip this weekend, facing two teams that are trying to improve their position in the West. On Friday, New Orleans will play at Oklahoma City; the next night, the Pelicans are in Houston.

While the Thunder and Rockets are already secure in knowing that they’ll be part of the eight-team Western Conference playoff field, the Suns need wins to ensure themselves a berth. The NBA’s most surprising team this season under first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix was projected by many analysts to finish last in the West, but have instead compiled a winning record.

The Suns have been spearheaded by the talented backcourt combination of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. When a Western Conference All-Star roster spot opened up in February, the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis was added to the team, but many around the league felt Dragic also deserved serious consideration. Bledsoe has missed over 30 games due to injury this season, but with him out of the lineup, Dragic picked up his play even more, including tallying 40 points against New Orleans on Feb. 28.

Phoenix has used breakthrough performances this season from players such as Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and twin brothers Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris to go 3-0 vs. New Orleans. The Suns have twice prevailed against the Pelicans in Arizona, after winning at Smoothie King Center by a 101-94 count on Nov. 10.

Pelicans Tyreke Evans
Intriguing matchup: Shooting Guard
Tyreke Evans vs. Goran Dragic
Both players also spend time at point guard, with Dragic sharing responsibilities with Bledsoe, and Evans often running the Pelicans’ offense, particularly during a very successful March stretch for New Orleans. Both players have played some of the best basketball of their NBA careers this season.
Suns Goran Dragic