The New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns clash in the desert at the newly refurbished Phoenix Suns Arena. This is a lot of youth and talent on both sides of the ball on Tuesday night in Phoenix. The Pelicans roster is exploding with talent and seems to be like a team on the verge of being a contender.
When I say contender, I should say that loosely because it’s going to be tough to compete with the top tier teams in the Western Conference for the foreseeable future. There is a lot of talent to go around in the Western Conference and only so many slots available in the playoffs.
The Pelicans’ core with Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball is strong enough to compete and maybe pull off an upset here and there against the big boys of the conference. Lonzo really was difficult to watch play with the Lakers. He was playing way too tight, and never looked comfortable with Lebron breathing down his neck.
Lebron is not going to accept anything less than perfection. The way I saw it, Lonzo was scared to make mistakes, which in turn, of course, resulted in mistakes. He doesn’t appear to be a franchise player or worthy of a No. 2 selection, but can play a nice secondary role for a team.
Lonzo is only a 23-year-old, so there is plenty of room to grow in his career. Ingram continues to show growth after averaging 18.3 points per game with the Lakers in the 2018-19 season. He set a career-high in his first season with the Pelicans, with 23.8 points per game. Ingram has notched 26.7 points per game through three games in the 2020-21 campaign.
There were concerns regarding Williamson’s weight going into last season and that he was going to be out of shape. However, Williamson didn’t listen to any of the noise and clearly showed why he’s the centerpiece of the organization. He scored 22.5 points and 6.2 rebounds as a rookie.
Williamson goes into Tuesday night averaging 21.7 points and 11.7 rebounds a game. Along with being more aggressive as a rebounder, Williamson has been more of a facilitator with 2.3 assists a game compared to 0.7 last season. I know, the sample size, but there are some encouraging signs so far.
When it comes to the Suns, their team operates around Devin Booker. If Mikal Bridges can continue at his early season pace, then the Suns are going to be in business. The Suns came on strong in the bubble at Disney a season ago with a record of 8-0 to close out the season.
They came just short in the stretch, though, and were denied a spot in the playoffs. However, I’m confident the Suns are a playoff team in 2020-21 if Bridges, along with Deandre Ayton take on more of a role. I’m excited to see what unfolds in this young guns game in the desert on Tuesday night. Head below for our free Pelicans vs. Suns pick on December 29, 2020.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Phoenix Suns NBA Betting Odds:
Pelicans vs. Suns Prediction:
The Suns opened the season with a promising win against the Dallas Mavericks at home on December 23. Devin Booker scored 22 points, while Mikal Bridges chipped in with 18 points and 7 boards in a 106-102 victory in Phoenix. The public was likely all over the Mavs in that game, but the Suns had other plans and showed that they’re ready to take on teams they might have lost against in the past.
They dropped the front end of a back-to-back against the Sacramento Kings, 106-103, but responded for a 116-100 win on Sunday. The offense was at their best in that contest, as Bridges, Booker, and Cameron Johnson all scored 20+ points. Johnson provided a nice spark off the bench to lead the Suns.
It’s likely that the Suns score more than 110 points in games often this season. They scored an average of 113.6 points a game last season, and I can only see the Suns matching that this season. However, what I’ve most been impressed so far with the Suns has been the emphasis on defense. They will certainly accept a drop in offensive numbers if the defense plays exceptionally better. Last season, the Suns gave up 113.4 points a game.
The Suns have steadily improved in that regard and appear to be on a good course this year. Through three games in 2020-21, the Suns have conceded only 102.7 points per game for second in the NBA. If you just woke up from a coma from 2005, you might be thinking, ONLY 102.7 points? Yep, that’s the NBA in this era, and the totals reflect it.
New Orleans has been doing work on the defensive floor as well. They’ve allowed 101.7 points a game to lead the NBA through three games. The Pels contained a capable Spurs’ offense in their most recent outing in a 98-95 win on Sunday. They held the Raptors and Spurs both under 100 points.
At least so far, their defense has been much improved from a team that gave up nearly 120 points a game in 2019-20. Going into tonight, the Pelicans are fifth in defensive rating at 101.3 points. Stan Van Gundy isn’t going to let his guys get away without playing defense. The total looks a little too inflated for me. This isn’t the same Pelicans team without Van Gundy, which didn’t focus on defense in the least. I like a piece of the UNDER between the Suns and Pelicans.