Suns vs Pelicans – NBA Pick for February 26th
The Phoenix Suns have to win a game at some point, right? The Suns are among the gaggle of teams in full-on tank mode at this stage of the season, but even the league’s worst teams occasionally win a game here or there. For Phoenix, though, they’re staring straight at the prospects of going a full calendar month without putting one in the win column. The Suns’ last triumph was a win over the lowly Mavericks back on January 31
If they come up short tonight, they’ll have one last chance to win a game before we flip to March. They’ll take on the Grizzlies, yet another tanking team, in Memphis on Wednesday.
Tonight’s game in New Orleans certainly stands out. This one comes with a 233 implied total, which is the highest on the board and one of the highest marks we’ve seen in the league all year long. This past Saturday’s clash between the Warriors and Thunder came in with a similar number, but it wound up coming up far short of 233. The Thunder failed to hold up their end of the bargain in an embarrassing 112-80 shellacking.
There are reasons to believe this Suns-Pels game may suffer a similar fate. The Suns are extremely bad, while the Pelicans played an overtime game in Milwaukee yesterday afternoon. So, their players could be a little tired after logging heavy minutes ahead of a flight back home last night.
Still, the total is high because these teams play similar styles. They’re two of the very fastest-paced teams in the league, and neither plays a hint of defense. Since the Pels lost DeMarcus Cousins 12 games ago, their defense has gone into the tank. New Orleans has a defensive rating of 108.6 since Cousins went down, which would rank 26th in the league if prorated over the course of a full season. The Suns are dead-last in this category in the year, with a ghastly DRTG of 110.5.
The Pelicans have also played at a pace of 102.5 possessions per game since Boogie was lost. That would rank third in the league over the course of a full season. Phoenix is 4th in pace (102.2). So, this game will be up-and-down and neither team will be playing much defense.
The question is, can they actually take advantage? The Pelicans can put the ball in the bucket, but that’s something the Suns have struggled with tremendously. Phoenix is 29th in the league in offensive rating, scoring just 101.5 points per 100 possessions. The Pelicans are 8th, but their rating has improved since Cousins got hurt.
Is Phoenix going to be able to do anything to slow down Anthony Davis? Doubtful. The Brow has been a man possessed of late. Over his last 10 games, Davis is averaging a staggering 32.9 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.5 steals. He’s also shooting nearly 50% from the field. He’s a tough matchup for every opponent, but the Suns are particularly lacking in the length department. With no obvious candidate to match up with him tonight, Davis should be in for yet another monster individual effort.
On the other side, the Pelicans may struggle to contain Devin Booker. Booker hasn’t shot the ball well since coming back from a hip injury (38%), but that hasn’t stopped him from jacking up the shots. Booker has averaged nearly 23 shots per game in the 3 games since his return.
If he can finally rediscover a rhythm, he should be in for a big night. The Pelicans just aren’t defending anybody lately, as Eric Bledsoe torched them to the tune of 20-9-5 yesterday afternoon.
It’s tempting to imagine this game being ridiculous and going into something like 3 overtimes, but it’s tough to imagine. The Suns just aren’t a team we can safely trust to stay competitive at this point. 233 is a massive number, even for these teams. Go ahead and hit the under here on 233.
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