Why the Phoenix Suns Need a Win Tonight vs New Orleans Pelicans

The Phoenix Suns have been able to answer the bell on numerous occasions this season.

It’s been a year that’s matched the offseason in terms of adversity. Jae Crowder’s name still hangs over the franchise as the Suns seek a final destination for the power forward. The sale of the organization will only create further noise as we get closer to the finish line, but those things haven’t really impacted Phoenix on the court.

Injuries have, however. From top to bottom the Suns’ lineup has been a constant game of musical chairs. Names such as Chris Paul and Cam Johnson have missed significant time while the likes of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton have missed some action of their own.

Yet the Suns have managed to exercise some demons, regardless of who’s been out on the floor.

In the early portion of the season, they were able to defeat viable Western Conference powers such as Golden State, Dallas, Los Angeles and New Orleans. Phoenix looked as if they were on their way to another strong regular season with them clinging to the No. 1 seed the entire way.

Yet a recent five-game losing streak exposed plenty of Phoenix’s shortcomings. Dropping games to Dallas, Boston, New Orleans and Houston showed that perhaps the Suns weren’t quite there yet as a unit this season. There’s 82 regular season games – not all are going to be perfect. Each team battles horrific stretches, that’s the nature of the beast.

Phoenix was able to get back on track with a win over the Clippers on Thursday, setting themselves up for an important showdown with a New Orleans team that swept them in a recent weekend series.

Suns Pelicans isn’t just a normal matchup, at least not anymore. Not after that dunk from Zion Williamson that sent a New Orleans crowd into a frenzy and the Suns’ bench onto the court.

It’s a rivalry that stems back to the Suns sending the Pelicans home in six games after the first round of the postseason last year. New Orleans appears to be a different team now. Phoenix hopes they’re a different team from last weekend.

For the Suns, Deandre Ayton (ankle), Cameron Payne (foot) and Duane Washington Jr. (hip) are out for tonight’s meeting. Jose Alvarado is probable for New Orleans.

Tonight will be a very good test on where the Suns are at as a team. Will Phoenix, back on their homecourt, return to their winning ways? Was that five-game skid just that, or have the Suns not learned from previous mistakes?

In what will be the last meeting between the two squads until a potential matchup in the postseason, Phoenix will again have the opportunity to right some wrongs and place themselves at the top as one of the best teams in the West.

We’ll see if the Suns have learned to shoot, rebound, and contain Zion.

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