Phoenix Suns still Have One Fatal Flaw Shown in First Game vs Pelicans

Phoenix Suns. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The Phoenix Suns opened up their playoff 2022 NBA playoff run with a 110-99 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday Night. They came out hot, full of energy, with high intensity, and because of that—they only allowed 34 points in the first half.

Everything looked easy and the game appeared heading toward blowout territory through halftime. But then a problem which the Suns have been dealing with all seasons showed up and opened the door for a Pelicans comeback: rebounding.

New Orleans attacked the glass with a vengeance, especially during the second half. Led by their big man Jonas Valanciuncas, they gathered 25 offensive rebounds even despite their team’s eventual losing efforts.

Before the playoffs began, rebounding had been a clear box for the Suns to check before  making their triumphant return to the NBA Finals. They saw opposing teams out-rebound them down the stretch of the season and needed to tighten it up before tonight.

They did not, and they got punished for it.

Phoenix only ended up with five offensive boards themselves, and the Pelicans won on the glass entirely by a 55-35 final tally. Thankfully, the Pelicans struggled significantly shooting the ball, especially on those second chance possessions, and only scored 38 points in the paint.

Suns head coach Monty Williams already expressed his players’ desire to patch up the rebounding issue last night. That represents a good sign for Phoenix and should be something to keep an eye on in Game 2 to see if said changes are made.

To go along with his 25 boards, Valanciunas also scored 18 points, but only shot 33.0 percent from the floor thanks to Deandre Ayton. Playoff Ayton was in the house, showing off on both ends of the floor, and his high-impact value on the Suns.

He finished with 21 points, nine rebounds, and four highlight-reel worthy rejections. This was not the best performance on the glass for him, but it was not entirely his fault.

If the Suns want to clean up their poor rebounding numbers, Ayton needs some help. Jae Crowder and Cameron Johnson combined for two rebounds; not ideal from your power forwards. The Pelicans carry a tall starting five and the option to throw multiple lineups at you with length, so Crowder and Johnson need to step up and offer DA a helping hand.

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Granted, this represents a small blemish on a GREAT Game 1 performance from the Suns. But if they want to win it all, they will face some giants with nonstop glass-eating appetites. As a result, this makes for a solid test for the Suns to get the kinks out early, and to get rid of this annoying flaw in their game.