The top-seeded Phoenix Suns begin their quest to get back to the NBA Finals when they open their Western Conference first-round series against the eighth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday. Phoenix fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals a season ago but is ready to rectify that after putting together the NBA’s best regular-season record this season.
New Orleans earned its spot in this series with a pair of wins in the Western Conference Play-In Tournament, including a come-from-behind victory on Friday night over the LA Clippers. The Pelicans came on at the end of the season to earn a spot in the tournament and enter this series, having won seven of their last 10.
Game 1 of this series is set to tip off at 9 pm ET on Sunday night at the Footprint Center in Phoenix. The Suns are 10.5-point favorites to win the opener. Let’s have a look at both teams and how they arrive to this first game so you can make your bets against their NBA Playoffs Odds.
New Orleans Pelicans vs Phoenix Suns – Game One Preview | NBA Playoffs Betting
Pelicans Looking To Keep Winning
The Pelicans got off to a fast start against the Clippers in a do-or-die game on Friday night, but Los Angeles rallied to take a 10-point lead heading to the fourth quarter. New Orleans never gave up, though, coming from behind to win, 105-101, to get the chance to take on the Suns.
Forward Brandon Ingram had a big game, scoring 16 first-quarter points and finishing with 30 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Ingram averaged 22.7 points in the regular season, but he must do more than that if the Pelicans are going to keep up with the Suns.
Guard CJ McCollum is another key to New Orleans’ upset hopes in Game 1 and the series. McCollum averaged 24.3 points per game after coming to the Pelicans in a midseason trade with the Portland Trail Blazers, and he is one of the few New Orleans players with plenty of playoff experience.
Suns Prepare For Another Long Postseason
Last season, it was Phoenix’s first time in the playoffs since 2010, so it would have been understandable if they didn’t stay around for long. But this season, after a run to the NBA Finals, there are a lot of expectations for the Suns to make another run at the title, with anything less being considered a disappointment.
Guard Chris Paul led the NBA in assists per game at age 36 with 10.8 per game, and he’ll be counted on for solid play, passing and scoring the ball. Paul averages 14.7 points per game and is one of the better clutch players in the league when it comes to the fourth quarter.
On most nights, Guard Devin Booker will be the main offensive threat for Phoenix, as he led the team with 26.8 points per game this season. Booker can take it to the hole or shoot from the outside, so he’s able to keep his defender off balance on most trips down the floor.
Suns Start Series Fast
Phoenix has had time to relax and prepare for Game 1, while New Orleans has had to play two pressure-packed games over the last few days. While sometimes that helps the underdog, having already played in playoff-type games, the gap between the teams in this one is a little too much, at least in the opener.
We like the Suns to win and cover in Game 1 in front of their raucous fans at Footprint Center.