Green Returning to Phoenix

New Orleans coach Willie Green is returning to some familiar stomping grounds on Tuesday night when he brings his Pelicans squad to Phoenix.

Green was an assistant coach with the Suns last season when they advanced to the Western Conference Finals. Things haven’t gone as well in the Big Easy, though, with New Orleans off to a 1-6 start. 

The Suns don’t look like the team that got red hot in the playoffs last year either, starting just 2-3 on the year. Sportsbooks still like Phoenix a lot in this one, with BetUS and BetOnline listing the home team as -11 point favorites.

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New Orleans Battling Through Injuries

The Pelicans look pretty rough with just one win through the first two weeks of the season, but they’ve also had to fight through missing their best player as Zion Williamson continues to be out after offseason foot surgery. 

This year’s leading scorer Brandon Ingram (25.0 ppg) joined Williamson on the sidelines Friday with a hip contusion and is questionable for the Suns’ matchup. The third-leading scorer Devonte Graham (17.9 ppg), is also questionable with a groin ailment. Maybe the +11 point betting lines are actually a bit low. 

New Orleans’ last three losses have come by 3, 4, and 6 points, so they’re not getting blown out, but those games against the Hawks, Kings, and Knicks were also at home. The Pelicans have a 16 point loss in Chicago earlier this season, and that was with Ingram and Graham. 

With injuries piling up, it needs to be another big night for big man Jonas Valanciunas, who looks like a revelation since coming over from Memphis in the offseason. Valanciunas has 20+ points in four of the last five and has 13+ rebounds in five straight, but can he keep that up if he has to be the focal point of the offense?

Suns Can Start Stringing Wins Together 

Phoenix currently sits in 10th place in the Western Conference, but they should be able to start rising through the ranks. The Suns just took care of Cleveland 101-92 on Friday and now get winnable games against the Pelicans and Houston before a 5-game homestand wraps up with a visit from Atlanta. 

An outright win looks pretty cut and dried for the Suns on Tuesday, so much so that -550 on the moneyline betting doesn’t even seem like a bad wager. Covering the -11 point betting lines could be a different story, though, if anything, because Phoenix doesn’t want to disrespect their former coach with a lopsided win – especially when he may not have his full arsenal of players. 

Another reason why the Suns are no sure thing with a -11 point betting spread is that they’ve started pretty slow out of the gates. That’s not entirely unexpected after a long playoff run, but Deandre Ayton has been held to single digits in points and rebounds twice while Chris Paul has two games scoring 6 points or less. 

Pelicans at Suns Pick

There’s always a chance that Ingram and Graham play in this game, especially since the Pelicans have been off since Friday night. Couple that with Green knowing the Phoenix system and the Suns having respect for a coach that helped lead them to the NBA Finals last year; a blowout doesn’t look likely here. 

The Suns looked good against Cleveland last time out, but the 101-92 win also failed to cover the 10-point betting spread. New Orleans may not win this one, but they can keep it to within 7 or 8 points. 

Pick: Pelicans +11

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