Desert Showdown: New Orleans Hornets At Phoenix Suns

New Orleans Hornets AT Phoenix Suns
Mar 24, 2011 at 10 PM EST
Opening Line:  Phx -3
Current Line: Phx -5
Opening Total:  196
Current Total:  197.5
Opening Moneyline:  Phx -215 / NO +185
Current Moneyline:  Phx -215 / NO +180

Grant Hill will see time at PF tonight

No team likes to admit it when it happens, but every once in a while, an injury is a death blow.  That’s definitely the case for the currently 7th seeded Hornets.  They just received news that they will be without star forward David West the rest of the season.  “The way he was lying down, I could tell he was seriously hurt,” Hornets center Emeka Okafor said.

The Hornets just don’t have the pieces to pick up the slack that will be left in the scoring department.  West doesn’t bring much more than a solid jumpshot and decent post game, but outside of Chris Paul, it’s the best thing the Hornets have going for them.  Phoenix hasn’t been that bad, it’s just that the Western Conference remains the deeper and tougher conference for making the playoffs.  If Phoenix were in the East they might be the 6 seed.

Some betting trends:

The total has gone UNDER In 10 of New Orleans’ 14 games.  New Orleans is 4-2 SU in their last 6 games and they are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5.  The total has gone UNDER in 5 of their last 7 on the road and the total has gone OVER In 8 of their last 12 against the Phoenix Suns.  New Orleans is 2-5 SU in their last 7 games against the Suns and they are 1-5-1 ATS in those 7 games.  The total has gone OVER in 5 of their last 5 on the road in Phoenix and New Orleans is 3-6 SU in their last 9 road games against the Suns.

The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Phoenix’s last 8 games and Phoenixb is 5-0-1 ATS in their last 6 games.  Phoenix is 4-2 SU in their last 6 games at home and they are 3-6 ATS in their last 9 games at home.  The total has gone OVER in 8 of Phoenix’s last 12 games against the Hornets.  Phoenix is 5-2 SU in their last 7 games against the Hornets and Phoenix is 5-9-1 ATS in their last 15 games against the New Orleans Hornets.  Phoenix is 5-1-1 ATS in the last 7 matchups against the Hornets and the total has gone OVER in all 5 of the last 5 home meetings against the Hornets.  Phoenix is 6-3 SU in their last 9  games against the Hornets and they are 5-11 ATS in their last 16 home games against the Hornets.

Key Matchups:

Chris Paul vs. Steve Nash

This is a matchup of two of the best point guards in the league right now.  Both employ similar styles of dribble penetration mixed with kickouts and shovel passes to big men.  Nash has been at it longer but Chris Paul is as crafty as they come, too.  Paul is the better defender, by far, of the two, so he does get the edge in this matchup, in my opinion.  Nash will dazzle the Hornets and give them a lot of trouble, but Paul will ultimately be able to slow him down more than he will be able to slow Paul down.  Expect Paul to attempt to use his size on Nash and get a little physical and aggressive.  He’s not a big point guard, but Nash is that small.

Emeka Okafor vs. Marcin Gortat

Gortat is coming off a 24 point, 16 rebound, 2 block game in a 2 point loss to the Lakers.  He’s accumulated sixteen double doubles since joining the Suns and is averaging 12.4 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game in 29 minutes of play.  Okafor was a much more touted draft pick than Gortat, selected 2nd overall, and for stretches in his career, Okafor has been very good in fact.  He’s undersized as they come, standing closer to 6’7″ than 6’10”, but he has long arms and has a quick jump.  He appeared to be a better offensive version of Ben Wallace coming out of Connecticut, but he never really panned out like many thought and hoped he would.  Gortat stands head and shoulders above Okafor and should have no problem getting some easy dunks and put backs around the rim.  He may have been nearly the last pick in the draft, but Gortat has evolved into the big man that teams covet with lottery picks.

Given the loss of David West, the Hornets have to be just trying to dupe themselves into believing their season isn’t over.  The Suns haven’t been particularly impressive, but are a respectable 20-15 at home.  New Orleans is lackluster on the road (17-20) so a loss here wouldn’t be unexpected.

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