Phoenix Suns Must Solve this New Problem to Beat New Orleans Pelicans

Phoenix Suns, Monty Williams (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Monty Williams (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns came into Tuesday night’s contest vs the New Orleans Pelicans looking as confident as ever, at the time boasting a one-game series lead after surviving a late surge from the opposition during their playoff opener.

While coasting into halftime with a five point lead, almost singlehandedly carried there by Devin Booker‘s 31 points, the Suns looked to be in a groove. They looked ready to breeze through the game and take home another dub even despite the Pelicans’ known resiliency.

But then, the Suns started bleeding again, much like they did on Sunday night to invite New Orleans back into the game.

The Pels dominated Phoenix yet again in the second half. In the series now, the boys from the bayou have outscored Phoenix 134-110 in the second half. During the fourth quarter on Tuesday, New Orleans even made seven straight shots during clutch time to inflate their lead as time ticked away.

So, what needs to change? Well, before anything else, getting Devin Booker healthy must remain the team’s top priority. The star guard had set the tone for his team early on, but was only a spectator in the second half. With their igniter gone, it will be tough for Phoenix to stay hot.

However, Phoenix’s options run deeper than just one player. After a vintage “Playoff Ayton” performance on Sunday, Deandre played only modestly right after—only putting up six shots and finishing without any blocks or steals.

The Suns need to involve DA more frequently on offense. Getting him going early keeps him engaged on the defensive side as well, which is where he is needed the most. Phoenix’s defense was not up to par in Game 2, as the Pels shot over 56.0 from deep, and scored with ease on the fast break.

This Pelicans team has shown fight all season long. They started 1-13 and battled their way into the postseason after taking in two Play-In games. They will not turn away, and their performance in the second half illustrates their ability to make adjustments at the half that Monty needs to counter.

Players Needing to Step Up Minus Booker. dark. Next

After two games, it looks like the series will be decided based on second half performances. During the regular season, the Suns ranked second in the latter half from a scoring perspective. They need to bring that energy back if they want to take down this scrappy New Orleans squad.