The playoffs are underway and the daily preview takes it to the rim with NBA tips for Game 4 between injury-hit Phoenix Suns and the plucky New Orleans Pelicans.
11:30 (AEST), Mon 25th Apr @ Smoothie King Center, New Orleans
History: Played 71: Suns 38 V Pelicans 33
Last meeting: April 23, 2022: Suns 114 d Pelicans 110 at Smoothie King Center
Final Thoughts: Phoenix Suns reclaimed the First Round series lead in Game 3 despite the absence of offensive spearhead Devin Booker. New Orleans Pelicans have competed admirably so far against the Championship favourites – but they’ll be desperate to square the ledger again before the series returns to Arizona.
Honours shared in Phoenix
The top-seeded Suns overcame New Orleans Pelicans 110-99 in the First Round series opener after a fast start. Star trio Chris Paul (30 pts, 7 reb, 10 ast, 3 stl), Booker (25 pts, 8 ast) and Deandre Ayton (21 pts, 9 reb) commenced their second playoffs campaign together in blistering style. CJ McCollum (25 pts, 8 reb, 6 ast) top-scored for the Pels, while big man Jonas Valunciunas (18 pts, 25 reb) was a monster on the boards.
But the Pelicans, who won their way to the eighth seed from the play-in tournament after finishing the regular season in ninth, levelled the series with a stunning 125-114 Game 2 result in Phoenix. The Suns led by five at halftime but Booker – who put up 31 points in 24 minutes, including seven threes – exited in the third quarter and the game swung. Brandon Ingram (37 pts, 11 reb, 9 ast) took over, with McCollum (23 pts, 8 reb, 9 ast) again productive.
Shorthanded Suns back in front
The Suns wrested back the advantage with a 114-110 Game 3 victory in New Orleans.
Paul (28 pts, 14 ast) and Ayton (28 pts, 17 reb) picked up the scoring slack – as well as performing at their usual high standards dishing up dimes and dominating the boards, respectively. Paul scored 19 of his points in a seesawing fourth quarter. Mikal Bridges chipped in with 17 points and JaVale McGee had 15 poitns off the bench.
The Suns held on despite shooting an abysmal 4-of-26 from three-point range.
Ingram (34 pts, 7 reb) and McCollum (30 pts, 7 ast) were again superb for the Pels but lacked support, though Devonte Graham did score 12 points in just 13 minutes off the bench. The home were ultimately outmuscled and lacked the depth to roll the Suns a second time.
Booker is likely to miss Game 4, meaning the Suns have only inched in slightly to $1.71 and the Pelicans are a genuine chance of levelling the First Round rubber. Another narrow Suns win in New Orleans shapes as the most likely result. But in-form Ingram – who has scored 27-plus in four of his past five games – will ensure the Pels don’t die wondering.
Best Bet: Margin – Suns 1-10 @ $2.84
Same Game Multi: Tri Bet – Either Team by 8pts or Less; Total – Over 224.5; Chris Paul Points – Over 20.5; Deandre Ayton Points – Over 19.5; Brandon Ingram Points – Over 25.5 @ $16.74