Chris Paul Rises Again

Phoenix was sitting as the team to beat in the NBA Western Conference odds. That’s changed along with Booker’s status. But, one player would not let that stand pat.

The Golden State Warriors are now the +130 favorite in terms of predicting how the West will be won. Defending champion Phoenix has bounced back a bit to +180. This is mostly based on Chris Paul’s fourth-quarter heroics.

No one is sure when Devin Booker will be back in this series or if he even returns during the next round. One thing is for sure. Chris Paul will not let this Phoenix team go gently into that good night. He led the league averaging 10.8 assists per game this season but again, Paul has a mid-range jumper that is beyond clutch.

Paul was masterful in Game 3. He scored 28 on 10-18 shooting. The guard dished off 14 assists as well in the victory.

The rise of Deandre Ayton?

When it was announced that Devin Booker would miss at least Games 3 and 4 of this first-round series, the immediate question became who would step up for Phoenix. Everyone knew Chris Paul would be there, but what about Deandre Ayton? The center showed flashes of being a force this season.  The guy has been a walking double-double in his career. In Game 3, he delivered.

That included a 28 point, 17 rebound performance in Game 3. Ayton and Chris Paul played pick-and-roll all night against the younger New Orleans defense. If it felt like days of Stockton to Malone to some people, then one did not need to adjust their television sets.

In nearly 35 minutes of action Friday night, Ayton not only shot 13-for-20 from the field but the center also had three steals including two in the fourth quarter.

Is New Orleans’ Depth An Issue?

Brandon Ingram’s 34 points paced the Pelicans in their Game 3 defeat. Their starters totaled 86 points in all, including 30 from CJ McCollum. However, other than Devonte Graham’s offensive contributions, something seemed missing from their bench play.

Nance was 1 for 8 from the field and hoisted up several missed uncontested three-point shots. Between that and Jose Alvarado getting toasted by the pick-and-roll made for a rough night in New Orleans for the Pelicans.

Suns vs Pelicans Prediction

Phoenix is now 6-1 straight up over the past seven games played at New Orleans. the Suns are also 6-2 ATS in their last eight games against the Pelicans. And the total has gone over in each of the past six games in which Phoenix was playing in New Orleans.

However, while the Suns’ offensive rating did dip dramatically without Booker (107.5), there is no way Phoenix is shooting 4-of-26 from distance again. That does not bode well for New Orleans.

This season, Phoenix is 9-6 SU in games without Booker in the lineup and 6-9 ATS. Expect Chris Paul to be the difference again.

Pick: Phoenix Suns -3 (-105)

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