PHX vs NOP Dream11: The NBA shuffles towards the Playoffs heat and we have already seen some interesting battles. The Timberwolves’ win over the Grizzlies surely came as a surprise but this means that the higher-ranked teams aren’t going to have a cakewalk first round all the time. But that is the beauty of Playoffs, you begin with a 0-0 record and that gives the chance to a lower-ranked team. And one of those lower-ranked teams in New Orleans Pelicans will take on the Phoenix Suns in this game.
The Suns showed in the Regular Season they have championship ambitions and no team even came close to their level of success. Setting such a high tone only means that there will be more expectations from this wonderful mix of veterans and youngsters. So, can coach Monty Williams lead the Suns to the glory of the title?
On the other hand, the Pelicans had to earn their ticket to the Playoffs. First, they had to beat the Spurs, which they did comfortably for most parts then they fended off the Clippers away from home but got lucky because their ace Paul George missed out. However, now their luck has been thrown out of the window as they face off against the most intimidating team in the league.
Host: Phoenix Suns
Visitors: New Orleans Pelicans
Match Timing: 18 April, @ 06:30 AM (+05:30 UTC)
Venue: FootPrint Center
Tough one for the Pels
The Pelicans will have to play out of their skins against the Suns. They blew big leads both against the Spurs and Clippers, but both teams lacked the mettle to close out games, however, the Suns are a different story altogether. First of all, building leads is alone a big problem versus the high-octane Phoenix team then the Suns are also terrific closers and they know when to pick up the defensive intensity and up the offensive game, which makes them a highly troublesome opponent. They rarely give any ground away late in the game.
What makes the Suns difficult is that they have brilliant combinations and the old-styled basketball has been perfected. The Suns remind me of the traditional setup. Paul runs the point as the Floor General. Booker can rain it as the “Shooting” Guard, Mikal Bridges is a brilliant wing slasher, Crowder is a tough Power Forward who brings defensive intensity while Ayton is a prototypical Center who has strong inside skills, stacking boards, finishing inside, and playing brilliant help defense. This is one of the major reasons why the team has been so successful.
On the other hand, the Pelicans don’t adhere to the tradition. They have shuffled CJ McCollum, usually a Shooting Guard as the leading ball-handler, while there are three Forwards in Jones, Ingram, and Hayes, and Center Valanciunas in the starting lineup. This has surely improved the defense but the offense can become stagnant at times considering only McCollum and Ingram are reliable long-range shooters. Larry Nance Jr. can rack up more minutes while Trey Murphy III has also done well and Alvarado also brings a ton of intensity. Let us see how Pelicans work their rotations.
The Suns will give major minutes to Paul, Booker, Bridges, Crowder, and Ayton while I see only Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne slating in for a decent chunk of minutes. On the other hand, Larry Nance Jr. can see an uptick in his minutes considering how his performance led the Pelicans to this stage. Ingram and McCollum have been high-yielding players where Ingram has filled the statline the most. Valanciunas will bring strong rebounding off the bench but it will be interesting to see if Herbert Jones can patch up three big games in a row.
Top Scorer: Devin Booker: 28
Top Rebounder: Jonas Valanciunas: 14
Highest assists deliverer: Chris Paul: 11
Scoreline Prediction: Suns 116 Pelicans 109
Phoenix Suns Team News
Suns Expected Starting Five
Defensive Forward: Jae Crowder
Slashing wing and strong Defender: Mikal Bridges
Inside Presence: C: Deandre Ayton
High-scoring Guard: SG: Devin Booker
Floor General: PG: Chris Paul
BENCH: Elfrid Payton, Bismack Biyombo, Torrey Craig, Javale McGee, Landry Shamet, Ismail Wainright.
New Orleans Pelicans News
Pelicans Expected Starting Five
Athletic Forward: PF: Jaxson Hayes
Defensive Forward: F: Herbert Jones
Rebounding Specialist: C: Jonas Valanciunas
All-around Wing: SF: Brandon Ingram
Scoring Guard: G: CJ McCollum
BENCH: Devonte Graham, Gary Clarke, Naji Marshall, Jose Alvarado, Willy Hernangomez, Trey Murphy III, Garrett Temple.
Off-guard Devin has been getting it done as an isolation scorer and he will be in play for something big during the Playoffs. The multi-faceted can be in 28-36 points, 4-6 rebounds/ assists range here. Booker can be selected as a Star/Pro Player in the Dream 11 NBA Fantasy scenario.
Expected Fantasy Points Range: 40-55
Guard CJ has shown the Pelicans the way as a perimeter shooter and his inclusion has improved the team balance in multiple spheres. I expect a 21-26 points and 5-7 assists range.
Expected Fantasy Points Range: 30-50
CP-3 has been running the Suns show for two seasons now and he has injected a whole lot of motivation and willpower in the Suns team, as he usually does as the Floor General. I expect 16-22 points, 9-14 assists, and 1-3 steals range.
Expected Fantasy Points Range: 33-48
Wing Brandon has been getting it done in an all-around fashion and he will be needed to rise up for big nights versus the Suns if the Pelicans have to stand a chance. I see a 22-27 points, 6-9 rebounds, and 4-6 assists range here.
Expected Fantasy Points Range: 36-52
Ayton will be tasked to go up against Jonas Valanciunas and he will need to keep him off the boards which means this can end up being the most physically charged match-up. I expect 15-21 points, 8-13 rebounds, and 1-3 blocks range.
Expected Fantasy Points Range: 26-36
Jonas has been a major factor as to why the Pelicans made the Playoffs and his rebounding, help defense, and versatile scoring has propelled the Pelicans’ charge. I expect a 13-18 points and 10-16 rebounds range here.
Expected Fantasy Points Range: 25-35
PG: C Payne
SG: D Booker(PP)
SF: M Bridges, B Ingram(SP)
PF: C Johnson, H Jones, L Nance Jr
C: D Ayton
PG: C Paul(PP)
SG: D Booker(SP)
SF: T Murphy, B Ingram
PF: H Jones, L Nance Jr
C: D Ayton, J Hayes
Wow, Devin Booker and Chris Paul absolutely killing the defenses with their riveting performances while springy Ingram showing new light with each day. In a piece of brilliant news for the Indian NBA fans, this match is available on TV outlets MTV and Sports 18. Meanwhile, streaming services JIO TV and Voot are not going to display this game for viewers in India. But there are three other games so the best option to access it is by getting a hold of the NBA League Pass. If you buy the annual subscription, you can view all live games and you can also access the full game replay if you can’t catch the live-action. To learn the scores, stats, and news, go to the official website of the NBA.