The NBA is set up with another good day of basketball on Sunday. Eight games are up on the board throughout January 3. One of these games will be an exciting tilt between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns. These two teams have had strong starts to the season and will look to keep it going. This game will tip off at around 8:00 PM Eastern time.
Los Angeles has opened up the new season with a record of 4-2, which has them tied for the second seed in the Western Conference. The Clippers have had a strong start to the season, but are coming off a loss in their last game. Los Angeles will look to bounce back with a big win over the Suns in this one. The Clippers are coming off a disappointing finish last season and seem to be on a mission to begin this season.
The Suns have put up a record of 5-1 throughout the early portion of this season, which has them in first place of the Western Conference. Phoenix is building off the momentum they gained in the qualifiers last season. The Suns seem to be revived early in this season and will look to put up a statement win against the Clippers on Sunday night.
These two teams are near the top of the Western Conference early in the season, which should lead to a great game on Sunday. These two teams have hit the ground running to open up this season and will look to keep that going in this one. These two teams have a lot to prove this season, which should help add some excitement to this matchup on January 3. I expect both teams to come out firing.
The Clippers and the Suns met up four times throughout last season. Phoenix hosted the first game of the series on October 26. Kawhi Leonard scored 27 points and 10 assists, while Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams both had more than 20 points off the bench. Devin Booker exploded for 30 points, while Kelly Oubre Jr. added 20 points. The Suns were able to earn a 130-122 win to open the season series.
The second game shifted to Los Angeles on December 17. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 19 points, while Deandre Ayton finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Paul George finished with 24 points on the night. Kawhi Leonard and Lou Williams both finished with 20 points. The Clippers were able to bounce back with a 120-99 win on the night.
Phoenix hosted the third game of the season series on February 26. Deandre Ayton scored 25 points and 17 rebounds. Ricky Rubio added 18 points and 10 assists, but it was not enough. Kawhi Leonard finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Marcus Morris scored 18 points to help lead the Clippers to a win. Los Angeles finished with a 102-92 win.
The final meeting of the season series was on August 4 during the qualifiers. Kawhi Leonard dropped 27 points, while Paul George scored 23 points on the night. Devin Booker finished with 35 points. Deandre Ayton scored 19 points, while Ricky Rubio dropped 18 points. The Suns were able to sneak away with a 117-115 win to tie up the season series.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both have stepped up for the Clippers throughout this season. Leonard has been averaging 24 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game this season. George has averaged 23 points per game. Serge Ibaka is averaging 14 points per game, while Ivica Zubac and Lou Williams are both averaging around 10.5 points per game.
Devin Booker has stepped up for Phoenix so far this season. Booker is averaging 20.5 points per game this season. Mikal Bridges has averaged 15.5 points per game, while Cameron Johnson is averaging 13.5 points per game. Chris Paul has averaged 13 points and 8.5 assists per game. Deandre Ayton is averaging 12 points and 11 rebounds per game. Jae Crowder is rounding out the lineup, averaging 10.5 points per game.
These two teams have had their stars step up throughout this season. Leonard and George have both stepped up so far this season and the addition of Ibaka has helped their lineup a lot. Booker has continued to play well and Chris Paul has done a great job spacing the floor. If either team can get their pace of play going early, it could be a huge edge in this one.
Field Goal Shooting
Los Angeles has been a strong shooting team throughout this season. The Clippers have made around 46.6 percent of their shots this season, which is 12th in the league. Los Angeles has been doing well from deep, making 39.4 percent of their shots from behind the arc, which is 5th in the NBA. The Clippers have shot 51.7 percent of their shots in close, which is 17th in the league.
The Suns have also been dangerous from the field this season. Phoenix has been able to make 46.6 percent of their shots from the field as well this season. The Suns have shot 37.9 percent of their shots from behind the arc, which is 7th in the NBA. Phoenix has made 53.3 percent of their shots from inside the arc, which is 10th in the league.
These two teams have been strong shooting throughout this season. Both teams have also had strong defenses this season. If either team can find some rhythm from the field early in this one, it could help them break through. I expect both teams to try and move the ball quickly to shoot well from deep. Phoenix has been slightly better on defense and if they can shut down the Clippers early, it could be enough to give them the win.
Phoenix has jumped to a fast start this season after going 8-0 in the qualifiers a season ago. The Suns still missed out on the playoffs and will look to keep this strong start going. Los Angeles is coming off a tough loss to the Jazz in their last game and will look to bounce back in this one. I think the Clippers will come out strong on Sunday night to hand Phoenix their second loss of the season.
BetOnline has Los Angeles listed as a -2 against the spread in this one. The Suns have had a strong start to the season, but I do not think they can keep this pace up. I believe the Clippers defense will be able to slow down Phoenix in this matchup. If Los Angeles can jump out to an early lead in this one, they should be able to cover this spread.