There cannot be enough said about how impressive the Phoenix Suns have been this season. Running away with the best record in the NBA during the regular season, the Suns improved on their great season last year. The 2021 championship runner-ups are the title favorites this postseason and for good reason.
In game one of the series, the Suns were able to secure a 110-99 victory over the Pelicans in a fairly convincing fashion. The Pelicans were able to outscore the Suns 37-26 in the third quarter to climb back, but the game was never in doubt. The Suns are sure to make adjustments ahead of Game 2 as they will face off with the Pelicans again on Tuesday.
4 Bold Suns Predictions for Game 2 vs Pelicans:
4. Suns will win by 20+ points
The final score of Game 1 does not properly represent how dominant the Suns were in game one. The Phoenix defense held New Orleans to just 34 points at half-time. They were able to a 53-34 lead at the break and it felt as if the game was over at that point.
Head Coach Willie Green and the New Orleans Pelicans deserve a ton of credit for scrapping back into Game 1. The lead was even cut to eight points in the second half. However, this does not change the fact that they are overmatched by this Phoenix team by a large margin. Look for the Suns to keep their foot on the gas from start to finish in Game 2 and blow out the Pelicans to take a dominant 2-0 lead.
3. Devin Booker will score 30+ points
The Suns are a very well-balanced team but it is clear Devin Booker is the number one option. The darkhorse MVP candidate averaged 26.8 points per game this season and led the Suns in shot attempts with 20.9. In Game 1, Booker shot just 8-19 from the field and did not get off on the right scoring foot. Even so, a Chris Paul masterclass in the second half was able to drive the game home for the Suns.
It was not a bad game for Devin Booker, but he is certainly capable of much more. Look for the Kentucky product to hit his stride early and put on an impressive scoring performance in Game 2. The Pelicans are clearly very conscious of not allowing Booker to get the ball in off-ball sets. This can be combatted by the Suns by allowing their star to create more in isolation. Booker has proved to be ready for the moment and he will likely receive this opportunity in Game 2.
2. Jae Crowder will make three three-pointers
One of the most impressive parts of this Suns roster is how many players they have are superstars in their roles. From Mikal Bridges to Cam Johnson to JaVale McGee, each player thrives in the role they are given. It is rare to get so many guys willing to take a backseat and prioritize a simplified version of the game. Jae Crowder is another prime example of this. In Game 1, Crowder failed to hit his stride in the 28 minutes of play he received.
With so much focus on other areas of the offense, Crowder oftentimes gets the benefit of being left open. He shot 0-4 from beyond the arc in Game 1 which may even reinforce this defense. Look for Crowder to capitalize on this opportunity in Game 2 and knock down three three-pointers of his own.
1. DeAndre Ayton will score 20+ points once again
The most obvious advantage between the two teams is likely the big man position. While Pelicans’ center Jonas Valanciunas is no slouch at the position, Ayton outclassed him on both ends of the ball in Game 1. The former number one overall pick ended with 21 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks.
The Pelicans had some success going small in Game 1 and playing Larry Nance Jr at the center position. Nance Jr. was very active and made some momentum-changing plays, but his play will be unsustainable if matched up with DeAndre Ayton. The advantage favors the Suns where Ayton is matched up with Nance Jr or Valanciunas, so look for Phoenix to lean into this.
The Suns have gained control of the series by taking a 1-0 lead. There are several necessary adjustments for the Pelicans to make prior to the next matchup, but only so much they may be able to do. Expect the Suns to continue to assert their dominance and never take their foot off the gas in Game 2. Their variety of weapons will likely be too much for New Orleans to keep up with.