Game On: Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans

Published: April 10, 2015

There is no way around it, with the playoffs in sight, the is a must win for the New Orleans Pelicans. There are two brutal games left on the Pelicans schedule with Houston and San Antonio coming up, so New Orleans has to take care of business against the teams they should beat to have a chance coming down the stretch. Phoenix has recently been eliminated from the playoff race, have struggled on the road, and are without starting point guard Brandon Knight and center Alex Len. All that makes the Pelicans 9 point favorites according to Vegas, and again, makes this a must win for New Orleans.

Keys to the Game

1. Defend the Three-Point Line

With Len out, the Suns have become even more of a perimeter team and without Knight, Gerald Green is back in the rotation and he has been gunning. In Wednesday’s loss to Dallas, Green jacked up 10 three’s (hitting five) and scored 30 points. Everybody in their current rotation outside of Brandan Wright is a three-point threat and this is how Phoenix can stay in games despite being inferior in other areas. The Pelicans have been #1 in the NBA in defensive 3-pt percentage since January. That needs to continue tonight.

2. Score in the Paint

We saw the Pelicans settle for jump shots in Memphis, but that can’t happen tonight. The Suns are paper soft on the inside as evidenced by the Mavericks scoring 66(!) in the paint on Wednesday night. Their only bigs are Wright and the Morris twins, who are essentially power forwards, so Tyreke should get to the rim and Asik, AD, Ajinca, and Ryno should crash the offensive boards. The Pelicans should live in the paint.

3. Don’t Beat Yourself

The Suns don’t have the talent to create turnovers (forcing just 8 against Dallas), but the Pelicans have had games where they are prone to unforced errors. If they are patient and smart they should be able to get any shot they want, and even when they miss they should be able to get the board 30% of the time or more. But when you make dumb, unforced errors, all those opportunities are out the windows.

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