How the New Orleans Pelicans can upset the Phoenix Suns

Monday, April 18, 2022
author picture Mia Chevalier
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New Orleans Pelicans - How They Can Upset the Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns will be looking to make a deep postseason run and enter the NBA Playoffs as the top seed. This year's team finished 64-18 and boasts star power‚ excellent coaching and a deep bench. But there is an underdog that can upset the Suns in this game - the New Orleans Pelicans. This team earned its playoff berth by beating the Clippers and Spurs in the Play-In Tournament. They will be relying on the young talent of Brandon Ingram‚ who should score plenty of points.

New Orleans Pelicans

The Phoenix Suns are one of the best clutch time teams in NBA history. Last year they were extremely efficient in the final five minutes of games‚ with a 69.3 percent true shooting percentage and a 2.64 assist to turnover ratio. The Phoenix Suns are known to trust their teammates‚ and that trust makes it difficult for other teams to score against them. To upset the Phoenix Suns‚ the New Orleans Pelicans must start and finish hot. While the Suns have an excellent record against the Pelicans‚ the key will be how well they stop Chris Paul and his teammates. This will be a major factor in game one. The Pelicans have one of the worst perimeter defenses in the NBA‚ allowing 35.9% of makes from distance‚ ranking only two teams worse than the Pelicans in the last three games. The Pelicans are a tough team to play against‚ but they have the pieces in place to win the series. The Pelicans were able to take advantage of the Phoenix Suns' injury to Chris Paul and have won their last four games. They jumped out to a 95-81 lead by the third quarter and cruised to the win in their first game following the All-Star break. The Suns are hoping to return to their starting lineup soon to keep their playoff hopes alive. However‚ the absence of their top scorer has hurt their chances in the playoffs‚ which is why Phoenix is still close to clinching the league's best record.

CJ McCollum

The Phoenix Suns look to begin a deep postseason run‚ and they certainly have the star power‚ strong depth‚ and terrific coaching to do so. CJ McCollum and the Pelicans‚ meanwhile‚ earned their playoff berth by beating the Clippers and Spurs during a Play-In Tournament. While they are still young‚ they have plenty of talent‚ and McCollum is poised to continue his remarkable play. New Orleans has shown its potential over the past couple seasons‚ and their resiliency on the court is one of the most encouraging signs. Last season‚ they narrowly escaped two Play-in games and finished eighth in the Western Conference. If they can repeat that performance‚ they can upset the Suns in the first round. However‚ the Pelicans' young team will have to battle through a loaded Suns team. It is highly unlikely that the Pelicans can beat the Suns without Ingram‚ but CJ McCollum has been a revelation since joining the Pelicans. His career-high 27.1 points per game‚ 6.7 assists‚ and 5.6 rebounds have helped fantasy managers‚ and he will return Sunday against the Lakers. And while it is unlikely that the Suns will be able to contain Chris Paul and Devin Booker‚ McCollum will be a key player in this game. The Phoenix Suns are currently a nine-point favorite to win Game 1 of the Western Conference Playoffs. In their last meeting‚ Phoenix led the Pelicans by 23 points in the third quarter before closing out the third quarter on an 18-5 run. In the third quarter‚ the Pelicans shot 25 percent and the Suns were just seven for 33. In the second quarter‚ Phoenix led by 14 points‚ while New Orleans shot six of 26.

Brandon Ingram

The Phoenix Suns are a well-oiled machine‚ and this New Orleans Pelicans team will need a strong offensive game to win this series. Even with the addition of Brandon Ingram‚ this series will be closer than expected. The Pelicans' top scorers‚ CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram‚ combined for 60 points in their last meeting. Here's how they can upset the Phoenix Suns: First of all‚ Ingram's play-in game was impressive. He scored 30 points despite not taking a single three-point shot. His team built a 16-point lead in the first half‚ but trailed by 13 after a timeout. Ingram responded with back-to-back contested turnaround jumpers to ignite a furious comeback in the fourth quarter. Brandon Ingram is expected to average 28.5 points‚ 5.5 rebounds‚ and a career-high 5.2 assists this weekend. The Pelicans have several star players who can score and get the ball to the open man. Brandon Ingram is a candidate for NBA MVP. CJ McCallum is an excellent personal defender. The two combined for 60 points against the Suns‚ but he would have to score at least 50 points in each game to give New Orleans a chance. However‚ New Orleans has enough to compete with the Suns in the final quarter and a half‚ but it's going to be a long series. If either player has a rough night‚ the Pelicans will not have a chance of winning this series. With Chris Paul's scoring‚ the Pelicans are not invincible. The Suns went 11-for-14 from the field before halftime and have already won two of their last three games. Ingram has already played a stellar game after taking a week off. He has also made the Pelicans shoot only 17 percent in the first half. Phoenix is shooting 47 percent and the Pelicans are shooting just 7 percent.

Youth

The Phoenix Suns have been a perennial doormat in the Western Conference. However‚ the Suns have begun to resemble a basketball team‚ and they are within reach of playoff contention. There is a lot of room for improvement on the Suns' current roster‚ but there is hope for the future. Several youth movement players have expressed their desire to break out of the bubble that the team has created. The Phoenix Suns are a team that is built for the future. While they may be a long shot to make the Finals‚ they are a legitimate threat to advance to the NBA Finals. The Suns hired James Jones to be their general manager and made some colossal acquisitions. He brought in Chris Paul as a point guard in 2020 and Monty Williams as a head coach in 2019. Under Jones' leadership‚ the Suns went from lottery-bound to a legitimate contender‚ earning a Peer Sports Award. The Phoenix Suns lead the Golden State Warriors by six games. Next up: Utah on Sunday. After their win over the Thunder‚ Phoenix will be playing their home game against Utah. If they can win on Sunday‚ they could surprise the Warriors by upsetting the Utah Jazz. The Suns are still on a winning streak‚ and the Warriors are just one game behind them. With a win on Sunday‚ Phoenix can close the gap to six games.

Athleticism

The Phoenix Suns will travel to New Orleans on Tuesday to play the Pelicans. Coming off a 133-99 victory over the Charlotte Hornets‚ the Suns are 28-8. The Pelicans‚ meanwhile‚ are 8-20 in their last eight games. This game should be a rematch of the last meeting between these two teams‚ but the Pelicans should come out firing. The Pelicans have had spurts of excellence this season‚ such as a 24-8 run in the regular season. They also swept Portland in the first round of the playoffs. But this season‚ New Orleans has been plagued by injuries‚ some of which can be chalked up to bad luck. But one of Nelson's primary objectives is to keep his players healthy‚ and he certainly did that. Chris Paul's athleticism can give the Pelicans a big advantage. Nelson has been with the Suns for 26 years‚ and won NBA Trainer of the Year honors in 2009. After leaving the team and his family to settle down in New Orleans‚ he was able to adjust to his new surroundings. Gentry picked him up at the airport and he was welcomed by Griffin. The New Orleans Pelicans are coming off a season-high victory. Their last meeting was won by the Pelicans 111-106. They have won four games this season‚ including two games that went into overtime. The Pelicans hold a 2-1 season series edge over the Suns‚ so this game will be a true test of team production. However‚ there have been several injuries that have changed the roles of the Pelicans crew. Some of the players have been inconsistent‚ causing them to falter in the stats necessary to win a game.

One-two punch

The Pelicans have a strong point guard in CJ McCollum‚ but they are without Zion Williamson‚ who was sidelined with a season-ending foot injury. The Pelicans have been able to compensate for the absence of Williamson in recent years‚ but resilience is not enough to win championships. In the first round of the playoffs‚ the Pelicans fell to the No. 1 seed Phoenix‚ and now hope to make up for it in the postseason. The Pelicans are a better team without Leonard‚ but they lack the ability to score in the post. This makes them vulnerable in the interior. Even though the Pelicans are a 5-point underdog‚ they can upset the Suns with a one-two punch. While their two best players are limited in the post‚ their youth and athleticism will be key factors in this game. The Pelicans are a solid team without Ingram‚ so they'll rely on their backcourt for offensive firepower. Devonte' Graham and Nickeil Alexander-Walker should see plenty of action. Josh Hart could also see plenty of time at different positions. Jonas Valanciunas will need to score to keep the Suns from scoring.