The New Orleans Pelicans have been one of the biggest surprises of this year's playoffs. Despite their 36-46 record in the regular season, the Pelicans have seemingly peaked at the right time and are playing their best basketball of late. They enter Game 5 tied 2-2 in their series with the Phoenix Suns. This is an impressive effort considering the Suns held the best regular-season record in the NBA and were the title favorite heading into the postseason. New Orleans wants to make it clear they are more than a feel-good story and have every intention of winning the series. Here are 3 bold predictions for Game 5.

3 Pelicans predictions in Game 5 vs Suns

CJ McCollum hits 5 three-pointers

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One of the biggest storylines of the series has been the maturation of Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum. While Ingram has taken a great deal of the shine, CJ McCollum has also impressed. Given Ingram's comfort of scoring in the mid-range, McCollum's three-point ability is necessary for the team's success. The Lehigh product is a long-range threat and has averaged 9.5 three-point attempts this series. McCollum connected on six three-pointers in Game 2 but has made four or fewer in the other games.

Look for the 6'3 guard to quiet the enemy crowd in the matchup by knocking down threes early on. The more productive CJ is from deep, the more the rest of the playbook opens up for New Orleans.

Jonas Valanciunas will shut down Deandre Ayton

It has been a very impressive opening playoff series from Jonas Valanciunas. The big man has played a valuable role for the Pelicans on both sides of the floor. This has been put to the test even further with Deandre Ayton becoming a larger part of the Suns' offense. With Devin Booker on the sideline for the remainder of the series, the Suns will continue to look to play through Ayton more often.

If Valanciunas is able to prevent Ayton from being productive in Game 5, it will increase the Pelicans' chances a great deal. This is not to take away from the Pelicans big man's production himself. The Lithuanian center has averaged 15.0 points, 16.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists during the series. This was a matchup that many Suns fans have had circled in favor of DeAndre Ayton coming into the series, but Valanciunas has impressed greatly through the first four games.

Larry Nance Jr will play 30+ minutes

The Pelicans have had several solid bench performances throughout the series, but Larry Nance Jr has been the most impressive. The undersized power forward has brought energy and effort each time he is on the court. While Jaxson Hayes has had productive stretches throughout the season, Nance Jr appears the better matchup in this series. Valanciunas has been productive enough on the boards that there is not a need to play Hayes. Even at 6'7 Nance Jr has proved capable of playing power forward minutes with his athleticism providing him an advantage.

It is difficult to stray too far from a normal rotation, but Willie Green would be wise to go with the hot hand. Nance Jr is a solid role player and is able to be effective without needing to get the ball much. He also could help the Pelicans get out in transition more and produce some easy baskets. The Suns lack size outside of DeAndre Ayton, so limiting Hayes' minutes at power forward should not hurt the team. Nance Jr has served as a major sparkplug for the team throughout the series so expect this to continue in Game 5.

The Pelicans should feel very satisfied with their postseason performance so far. The Suns have far more to lose than the Pelicans to do in the series so the pressure is on Phoenix. This series is a chance for the Pelicans to prove that they are taking the right strides as a franchise. If they are able to advance it would be a massive upset and could have some extremely positive effects on the franchise moving forward.