The Phoenix Suns start their Western Conference title-defense Sunday evening when the New Orleans Pelicans roll into the Footprint Center for recreation one among NBA Playoffs. Phoenix simply wrapped up the most effective common season in franchise historical past, going 64-18 and incomes the highest seed within the west. New Orleans, then again, took management the the eighth seed after defeating the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers within the play-in.
These are two groups on reverse sides of the spectrum. The Suns dominated its manner via the schedule whereas the Pelicans bought scorching proper once they wanted to. Phoenix is a heavy, heavy favourite to advance to spherical two, coming in at -1350 odds to win the collection based on FanDuel Sportsbook.
Those odds are not any fluke. The Suns have been the most effective crew within the NBA this season by a protracted shot. Don’t anticipate a first-round stunner. Here are three the explanation why it is best to maintain off on throwing cash on the Pelicans, the Suns are taking this one in 4 (or 5).
In the clutch
The Suns simply completed an everyday season during which they have been one of many biggest “clutch time” groups in NBA historical past. Phoenix was extremely environment friendly within the final-five minutes of video games, with a real capturing proportion of 69.3 and a pair of.64 help/turnover ratio.
What these numbers ought to inform you might be:
- This is a crew that at all times takes the sensible shot on the finish of video games
- This is a gaggle of gamers that belief one another.
Chris Paul mentioned on the timeout with 4:55 left, Devin Booker advised the huddle, “Aight, under 5 minutes. Y’all know what time it is.”
— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) February 16, 2022
For New Orleans to take 4 video games off of the Suns, they’ll’t have a 5, 7, even 10-point lead going into the five-minute mark. The Pelicans have to catch fireplace to begin video games, placing the Suns in an early gap, and end them on the finish. The Pelicans want rubbish time on the finish of video games to place this crew away.
Part of the rationale for the late-game success isn’t tangible, positive. Some folks and gamers merely don’t really feel stress like others do. But a giant purpose for it’s the personnel. Chris Paul will punish groups that go away any openings on the finish of video games together with his distribution.
Guarding the perimeter? Watch for an oop to Ayton. Clogging the paint? Cam Johnson is pulling up from deep. Booker will preserve hitting huge pictures, and Mikal Bridges will lock you up on the opposite finish. This is a well-rounded crew. The Pelicans are going to have a troublesome time exposing weaknesses on the finish of shut video games, as a result of Phoenix doesn’t actually have many weaknesses.
The bench rolls deep
Playoff time is when the rotations shrink within the NBA. Players like Bismack Biyombo and Aaron Holiday will seemingly see their minutes shrink to near-zero throughout non-garbage time within the playoffs. Booker, Paul, Ayton and Bridges, then again, can be enjoying near 40 minutes per recreation, relying on how the collection goes.
But the Suns rotation doesn’t cease there. Johnson will nonetheless see stable minutes for his capturing prowess. Jae Crowder is a participant with expertise in these conditions and might present stable protection. Javale McGee would be the back-up heart behind Ayton since he can play robust protection and defend the rim.
New Orleans can be doing the identical factor, however the bench doesn’t run as deep. Rookie phenom Herb Jones goes to want to play principally every time Booker is on the courtroom, as his protection can be essential to the Pelicans’ upset hopes. Jose Alvarado’s protection can be essential towards Chris Paul in sure conditions.
Other than that, the Pelicans are going to want to run the beginning 5 for a substantial period of time. The offensive firepower on the Suns require New Orleans to play CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram for 42+ minutes per recreation.
Oh, and that different Pelicans star? He seemingly gained’t play within the collection. He’ll follow 360 dunks in pre-game warm-ups as a substitute.