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Preview: Suns look to win tiebreaker over Pelicans

© Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns (43-31, 8th in Western Conference) look to rebound tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans (45-29, 6th in Western Conference) after a bad loss to OKC Friday. This is the final contest of Phoenix’s five-game road trip in which the Suns have gone 2-2 so far.

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This is a big game for both teams, as the Suns can own the tiebreaker with a win and move to one game back of New Orleans in the standings with one additional remaining matchup remaining between the two teams (April 7 in Phoenix).

The Suns have a clean injury report outside Damion Lee, who has been out all season, while New Orleans is still without Brandon Ingram (left knee bone contusion) and Jose Alvarado (right oblique strain).

Phoenix is coming off its second-worst loss by margin of defeat this season, a 128-103 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who missing Shai Gilgeous Alexander, Friday. Kevin Durant, who finished with 26 points, was the only Suns’ player to score more than 15 points in the loss. OKC used a full team effort and shot 49-for-87 (56.3%) from the field and 16-for-30 (53.3%) from deep to blow out Phoenix.

The Pelicans fell 104-92 to the Celtics Saturday night. Zion Williamson had 25 points and nine rebounds, while CJ McCollum tacked on 24 points and five assists in the loss. New Orleans shot under 40% (39.5%) from the field.

Devin Booker finished with 52 points in the last meeting against New Orleans at the Smoothie King Center in a 123-109 victory for Phoenix back on Jan. 19. Dating back to last season, this was the second straight game Booker had a 50-piece against New Orleans. All the eyes were on Booker, but Jusuf Nurkić finished the night with five points, 16 rebounds, a season-high nine assists and was a team-high +30 in terms of plus/minus.

New Orleans has gone 20-11 since this last matchup, while the Suns have gone 20-13. Since this game, the Pelicans have allowed the fifth-fewest points in the NBA at 107.5 per game (110.3 on season).

Local Game Information

Start Time: 5:00 p.m. MST

Location: Smoothie King Center

TV Channel: AZ Family/ 3TV

Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, La Mejor 106.5 FM

Stream: Suns Live (click for more info)

Betting Odds

Line: NO -1.5

O/U: 222.5

Injury Report

Phoenix Suns: Damion Lee (right meniscus surgery) OUT

New Orleans Pelicans: Brandon Ingram (left knee bone contusion) OUT | Jose Alvarado (right oblique strain) OUT

Starters (Projected)

Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Grayson Allen, Kevin Durant, Jusuf Nurkić

New Orleans Pelicans: CJ McCollum, Herb Jones, Trey Murphy III, Zion Williamson, Jonas Valanciunas

Five Keys to Game for Suns

  1. Limiting turnovers
  2. Picking up the pace
  3. Transition defense
  4. Not allowing big runs
  5. 3-point defense


Suns 109 – Pelicans 104

The Suns have been probably the most random team in the NBA this season, so all of these games are extremely hard to predict. With that being said, I am mostly predicting this game based on their recent stretch of win-loss-win-loss that this will be a win. Phoenix has also shown recently that it can respond to a loss really well and did prove that New Orleans could be a favorable matchup if things go right for the Suns. The Suns need this win, and I think it would be right to hit the panic button for good if they can’t, especially if they lose in the fashion they did to OKC.

Losing in this fashion won’t be likely against New Orleans because the Pelicans play at a slower pace. Still, Phoenix has shown capable of identifying its weaknesses when needed, so if the Suns can come out with a concentrated effort and play the best way they can, which they have proved capable of multiple times, this could be a much-needed victory for them.

Last Meeting (Jan. 19, 2024)

Devin Booker Dominates with 52 Points as Suns Cruise to Blowout Victory Against Pelicans

Team Matchup Notes

Everything to know about the Spurs and Pelicans before their second meeting this season:

Each team’s stats (via Suns):

Preview: Playoff implications of this matchup

Suns can keep playoff hopes alive and well with win over Pelicans tonight

Preview: Injury report

Suns have clean injury bill against Pelicans tomorrow

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau


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