Time: 7 p.m. ET
Venue: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Where to watch: BSIN, BSAZ
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Suns -5.5
BetMGM: Suns -5.5
Caesars: Suns -5.5
Suns: 31-9 (1st place, Western Conference)
Pacers: 15-27 (13th place, Eastern Conference)
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Suns - Pacers preview, analysis and prediction
The Phoenix Suns have won four of five, are taking on a struggling Indiana Pacers team, and are only laying 5.5 in this matchup on Friday.
It almost seems like this is the ultimate meme.
The perfect storm is rocking for the Suns at the right time. Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder are back from COVID and essentially join a team that’s been able to cook with gas while they’ve been out. Phoenix sits atop the Western Conference thanks to the Golden State Warriors going 5-5 in their last 10 which included falling apart on Thursday at the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Suns are coming off a 99-95 win at the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday that was highlighted more by the Raptor mascot going into timeout because he was distracting Devin Booker from shooting free throws.
Not even when dinosaurs were walking the earth did we believe they had the mental capacity to alter basketball games by disallowing free throws, but things can get wild when in Toronto. But the Suns, despite committing 20 turnovers and them turning into 18 points, Phoenix got a necessary win.
"When you have that many turnovers and you give up that many extra possessions, you'd better do something well," Suns coach Monty Williams said. "I thought our half-court defense was sound."
Even though the Suns continue to find ways to win, they’ve struggled to look dominant since finally getting their whole team back. Booker, for example, finished with just 16 points while Chris Paul had only 15 points and 12 assists.
Crowder and Ayton were both fantastic, though. Crowder had a game-high 19 points while making five 3-pointers, and Ayton missed only two shots to finish with 16 points and nine rebounds. Ayton played 30 minutes, but expect his minutes to climb as the games go on.
Despite the fact the Pacers have lost seven of eight and continue to freefall down the standings, this will be a tough matchup personnel-wise in the frontcourt. Whether it’s Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis, there’s a big body that will take on the challenge of facing Ayton. It’ll more than likely be Turner, who had 18 points and four rebounds in 24 minutes in a 19-point home loss to the Boston Celtics.
Sabonis had 17 points, six rebounds and six assists in the loss.
The Pacers have been one of the league’s disappointments at 15-27, far below any expectations in Rick Carlisle’s first year. If they can’t get all-star production from the backcourt of Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert, on both ends considering they’ll have to slow down Booker and Paul, I don’t like their chances, especially on defense.
Give me the Suns on the road, where they’re 14-4 this season. Indiana’s defense hasn’t been horrible, but it’s given up 108 points per game. There will be holes to exploit this, and I expect Booker to have a huge game to cap this off. Suns by 14
The Suns are 19-16 ATS as a favorite this season.
The Suns are 1-7 ATS this season when the score is combined for 205 points or less.
The Pacers are 14-6 ATS as an underdog this season.
The Pacers are 10-2 ATS in non-conference games this season.
Projected starting lineup
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Devin Booker
SF: Mikal Bridges
PF: Jae Crowder
C: Deandre Ayton
PG: Caris LeVert
SG: Malcolm Brogdon
SF: Justin Holiday
PF: Domantas Sabonis
C: Myles Turner
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