Preview 2022 Qualifiers | Phoenix (1) – New Orleans (8)

Their qualification in the playoffs is hardly indigestible, the Pelicans now attacking a very different opponent than the Clippers, because they are neither more nor less past the Suns way. In other words, the top team in the league is (almost) non-playable throughout the 2021/22 season.

Suffice it to say, pals Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum wouldn’t appear as favorites in this poster against the forces of Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Even if New Orleans could count on having Willie Green, a former assistant to Monty Williams in Arizona, on the bench, to try to sabotage Phoenix’s plans…

On paper, an unbalanced duel loomed anyway. With a team at the top of their game, on the one hand, and aiming only for the title. Whereas, on the other hand, we find an erratic team that had to work hard to join the Western Top 8 list for the first time since 2018.

sun show

Swatches: C. Paul, D. Booker, M. Bridges, J. Crowder, D. Ayton.
Alternatives: C Payne, E Payton, A Holiday, L. Chamett, T. Craig, C. Johnson, A. Wainwright, Beombo, J. McGee.
Absence: Dr.. I will show you.
the coach: Mr. Williams.

Under the leadership of Monty Williams, who is on track to become Coach of the Year, the Suns has shown remarkable solidity throughout this season. Having come out of an already great financial year 2020/21, they do even better in 2021/22, finally setting the best record in their history: 64 wins and 18 losses! Forget about Charles Barkley’s team, as well as the team of Steve Nash and Amary Stoudemire. Just that!

Collectively, Phoenix looks a step above any other franchise and above all looks better armed than it was in the previous exercise. It must be said that his seat has strengthened in the meantime, with the arrival of Elfred Payton, Aaron Holiday, Landry Chamett, Esh Wainwright, Bismack Piombo or even Javel McGee. Perfect supplements for players who have already been around for a year, such as Chris Paul, Cameron Payne, Devin Booker, Michal Bridges, Tori Craig, Jay Crowder, Cameron Johnson and Dender Eaton.

Finally, only Dario Saric, injured since last time finalsmissing in the rotation of the suns.

strength point

collective continuity. Between the charm of Chris Paul-Devin Booker’s “Back Zone” duo, Michael Bridges’ sexy and subtle Jay Crowder pair on the wings or the toughness of Deandre Ayton on the paddle, the Suns have a veritable fleet. Even better: On the bench, Monty Williams can count on diverse and above all complementary profiles for five players. In attack as in defense, this team is able to maneuver any opponent and they know each other like the back of their hands. There is no doubt that she will also be able to exploit her failure in 2021 to better understand the qualifying event in 2022.

Toughness in crucial moments. It’s been repeated but this season’s Suns accuracy in the hot moments has been amazing, in particular the best record (33 wins – 9 losses) when the difference in points was less than five in the last five minutes. Even more impressive, Phoenix won the 47 games the team advanced after three quarters. This is to show how difficult it is to reverse…

Weak points

Expectations. It’s hard to find a weak spot in this Suns side, who topped the league from October to April. Legitimate candidates for the NBA title, as solid as possible and imperial once the meetings are played at one or two properties, however, the pressure can tide over Monty Williams’ men. It must be said that since the beginning of the 21st century, only the Celtics (2008), the Heat (2013), the Spurs (2003, 2014) and the Warriors (2015, 2017) have become champions by being at the top. From the NBA at the end of the regular season. Can Phoenix players join this list?

swan show

Swatches: C McCollum, H. Jones, B. Ingram, J. Hayes, J. Valanciunas.
Alternatives: D. Graham, J. Alvarado, J. Temple, T. Snell, N. Marshall, T. Murphy III, L. Nance Jr., W. Hernangomez.
Absence: Z. Williamson, K. Lewis Jr.
the coach: W. Green.

Even without Zion Williamson for the entire season, the Pelicans managed to find the resources to withstand the shock of without one of the two All-Stars and finally found the playoffs, four years after their last engagement. Obviously something to cheer about Willie Green, the rookie coach for the Bells, whose technique quickly knew how to work with his players.

The success New Orleans also owes to Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas, heroic long-timers in keeping their team within a reasonable distance of “playing in”, but also to CJ McCollum, whose arrival has bolstered this somewhat young, but no less ambitious group. It is also necessary to emphasize the fine work done by David Griffin in the franchise offices, because he was able to discover some of the coins that are essential today for the domestic circulation, such as Herbert Jones, Trey Murphy and Jose Alvarado.

Three items will have a real card to play in this series, in the same way that Larry Nance Jr. would play on the bench, in the case of the “Little Ball” bet. Not to forget Devonte’ Graham, whose talent for attacking can take damage, if he’s in a good rhythm…

strength point

Group dynamics. The authors of a terrible start to the season (1 win – 12 losses), the Pelicans nevertheless managed to get their ticket to the playoffs. And that, after a convincing second half of the season (13 wins – 10 defeats after the All-Star Weekend Final), is evidenced by these two wins against Tottenham and then the Clippers. Willie Green’s team miraculously nearly qualified for the playoffs, so the blockage’s spirits inflated, in the wake of CJ McCollum-Brandon Ingram’s husband who will carry on his shoulders nearly all of New Orleans’ hopes in these playoffs.

Weak points

inexperience. If the Pelicans have a lot of talent in their ranks, they nevertheless risk being paid for the inexperience of a part of their workforce. Starting with Brandon Ingram, who will discover the playoffs for the first time, such as Herbert Jones, Devonte Graham, Jackson Hayes, Jose Alvarado, Willie Hernangomez, Nagy Marshall or Trey Murphy. Another drawback, perhaps, for New Orleans: the absence of a real boss on the field, because CJ McCollum is in the process of transitioning to the point guard position but still has to learn to alternate between personal involvement and collective management at crucial moments.

key chain

poor time management. There is no doubt that the Pelicans will be able to compete with the Suns at times, with talented players like Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum or Jonas Valanciunas. However, it would be impossible for them to keep up with the pace during an entire match (and more generally on an entire series) with a collective light years away from Phoenix. So it is the ability of Willie Green’s men to adequately resist (defensively) for these periods without which it would be closely scrutinized, against an entire, advanced and “clutch” fleet like the Phoenix’s. Without it, every “run” would be bloody for NOLA…

regular class

Phoenix 3-1

November 2: Phoenix – New Orleans (112-100)
January 4: New Orleans – Phoenix (110-123)
Feb 25: Phoenix – New Orleans (102-117)
March 15: New Orleans – Phoenix (115-131)

judgment

To stand a chance in this series, the Pelican will not have to be late in igniting.

Since they’ve just played two cleaver matches in the space of a week, they’re already in the mood for the playoffs, unlike the Suns. Hence the need to use Game 1 and/or Game 2 by Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, and others. Without it, at 0-2, his teammates Devin Booker and Chris Paul could start to expose Louisiana basketball, as they would gain confidence at home. Confidence is also very high already for the whole group, at the end of their excellent regular season.

That’s why we can’t imagine keeping up with New Orleans against Phoenix.

If NOLA players could get a game, that would be really cool, when you know that for them all that follows is a bonus. Completely unlike the expected Arizona franchise at least In the final conference, not to say in it finals. On paper, this first lap shouldn’t have been a problem for him anyway, unless there was an untold disaster.

Thus, 4-0 is far from utopian in this series, especially if Michael Bridges can limit the influence of Brandon Ingram or CJ McCollum, because the best team in the league will definitely be there. Due to its depth…

Phoenix 4-0

Schedule

Game 1: In Phoenix, Sunday, April 17 (3:00, from Sunday night to Monday in France)
Game 2: In Phoenix, Tuesday, April 19 (4:00, from Tuesday to Wednesday in France)
The third game: In New Orleans, Friday, April 22 (3:30 a.m., Friday night through Saturday in France)
Fourth game: In New Orleans, Sunday, April 24 (3:30 a.m., from Sunday night to Monday in France)
5* game: In Phoenix, Tuesday, April 26 (TBD)
6* game: In New Orleans, Thursday, April 28 (TBD)
Game 7 *: In Phoenix, Saturday 30 April (TBD)

* If necessary.

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