The second-place Phoenix Suns (28-8) will pay a visit to the New Orleans Pelicans (13-24) at Smoothie King Center on Tuesday night, with tipoff set for 8:00 p.m. ET. This game comes on the back of a couple rough results for the Pels, with a 136-113 loss to the Bucks followed by a 115-104 loss to the Jazz. It won’t get any easier for them as they take on the Suns tonight, then face off against the Warriors on Thursday. The Suns, losing three of their last five, are coming off a big 133-99 win over the Hornets on Sunday.
Unsurprisingly, the Suns are clear favorites here, as DraftKings Sportsbook has them favored by 7.5 points. They’re at -305 on the moneyline with the Pelicans priced at +240. The point total is set at 223.
Phoenix is finally seeing its first wave of players entering COVID-19 protocols, with JaVale McGee, Abdel Nader, Deandre Ayton, and Jae Crowder all landing on that list. Crowder entered on December 26th, and the rest of the players followed up through December 30th, so any of them could clear the league’s protocols at any moment and be available for tonight’s game. At the time of writing, they’re still listed as out so we’ll assume that’s the case, but will keep this updated if things change.
The Pelicans only have one player in protocols, as Tomas Satoransky entered on Sunday and will be out for the Suns game. They’re also still missing big man Zion Williamson (foot) who hasn’t played yet this season, as well as Kira Lewis Jr. (ACL), who’s out for the season, and Didi Louzada, who’s serving a 25-game suspension.
Pick ATS: Pelicans +7.5 (-110)
For the Suns to cover, they’d essentially have to secure another blowout on the road. After their 34-point win over the Hornets, it certainly seems likely, but the Pelicans might have other ideas in store. Regardless, I think the Suns will win the game outright, but covering the spread is another story. The Pels won’t have to deal with Deandre Ayton or JaVale McGee in the frontcourt, which bodes well for Jonas Valanciunas, who is all but guaranteed to log a double-double with points and rebounds. He’s been doing that fairly consistently all season long in Williamson’s absence.
The Suns will most likely need to rely on Devin Booker having a big night in order to get a blowout, but that’s not always the case as we’ve seen him have plenty of off nights this season. Even if the Suns win, I think the Pelicans can keep the game close and cover the spread at home.
Over/Under: Over 223 (-110)
The Suns are missing a lot of defense with both Ayton and McGee out. Jalen McGee has done a decent job of filling the void but it’s not to the same degree as when Ayton is on the floor. Phoenix also has an explosive offense and could potentially run the score up, but they’ll likely be giving up more points than normal without their go-to big man on the floor. Expect this one to go over the total.
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