Pelicans need to adjust with Devin Booker out for Game 3

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball against Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball against Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans will return home to face the Phoenix Suns riding the high of a game two victory that locked the series at a game apiece.

The Suns are likely to be without superstar Devin Booker for games three and four after he suffered what is being called a “mild” hamstring injury in game two.

Including last game, the Suns are just 8-7 this season without Booker, but Chris Paul and Suns aren’t just going to lay down and will expect to win even without their best player.

Booker being out gives the Pelicans an advantage, but they will also have to adjust, as Phoenix has other players who are ready to step up.

The New Orleans Pelicans have to stop Mikal Bridges

With Booker out, the focus obviously turns to Chris Paul first and foremost. We know he can score as well as he can facilitate, so slowing him down as they did in game two will once again be key.

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But the Pelicans also have to stop the secondary guys from having big games in Booker’s absence. Mikal Bridges had 19 points in game two, and the Pels can’t let him go off for 25-30 points to replace Booker’s production.

This might mean using Jose Alvarado more on Chris Paul throughout the game and sliding Herbert Jones over to Bridges to keep him in check. The Pels may need to go smaller with Brandon Ingram at the four to ensure Bridges doesn’t have a big game.

The Pelicans have to stop the lobs

The Pelicans are probably going to have to live with Chris Paul having a big game offensively, but they can’t let him get everyone else involved as well, especially the bigs.

Pelicans’ announcer Antonio Daniels rightfully pointed out a few times in the last game when Chris Paul was luring the Pels’ bigs away from their man only to lob it up to Deandre Ayton or Cameron Johnson.

Stopping this is easier said than done, as it’s not like the Pels don’t know what he’s up to, but the Pels’ big guys need to fight the temptation to come off their man to help on Chris Paul in the lane. Make him take tough contested shots in the paint or from the mid-range, which is preferable to him throwing lobs for easy dunks.

This means going under the screens and staying home on the rollers, which should be easier to do without the threat of Devin Booker lurking on the wing.

The Pelicans’ job in this game isn’t any easier with Devin Booker out, it’s just different, as this Suns team is solid even without him and has a lot of ways to beat you even without their best player.

New Orleans can still win if CP3 has a monster game, but they can’t let Mikal Bridges fill Booker’s shoes or allow the Suns’ bigs to catch lobs all game.

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