Los Angeles Clippers (8-5) at Phoenix Suns (8-2)
- Time: 12:30 PST – 2:30 CST – 3:30 EST
- Place: Phoenix Suns Arena, Phoenix, AZ
- TV: ABC
So in one corner you have the rested Phoenix Suns without Chris Paul due to COVID-19 protocols and in the other corner you have the wearier LA Clippers, who won an emotional Game 6 to stop Utah as they are without Kawhi Leonard who is out with a continuing knee injury.
Scintillating storylines aplenty, but who is going to miss who most and what is this going to do to the matchups in this series.
The Suns were playing the best hoop of anyone in the playoffs as they rolled to a team-high seven consecutive playoff wins. They make their tenth appearance in the Western Conference Finals and the first since 2010.
Meanwhile, if took the Clippers franchise some 50 years to get to just the Western Conference Finals, let alone the NBA Finals, and the path has been interesting. They are the first team in the history of the league to overcome two 2-0 deficits and win a series.
The Clips trailed Dallas, 3-2, in the first round and had to win two game which they did. Then, Utah jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second round before the Clippers ran through the Jazz and swept the next four games. The clincher saw them trail by 22 at halftime before they scored 81 point in the second half and Terrance Mann erupted for 39 points, 20 in the third quarter.
4-8-21 – @Clippers 113, Suns 103 – The Clippers shot 50 percent from the floor and made 18-of-37 threes as Paul George once again led Los Angeles with 33 points in making 12-of-19 baskets, including seven triples. The Clips scored 26 points off of 15 Phoenix turnovers and held them to 6-of-24 from three. Devin Booker had 24 points to lead Phoenix.
4-28-21 – @Suns 109, Clippers 101 – Chris Paul had 28 points and dished 10 assists as Phoenix as the Suns led wire-to-wire in opening up a 39-25 advantage late in the first quarter. The Clippers kept cutting into the Suns’ leads as it stood at 93-92 early in the fourth quarter before Paul provided the separation with eight consecutive points. Paul George once again led Los Angeles with 25 points and 10 rebounds.
Injuries to Key Contributors
- Clippers – Kawhi Leonard – (right knee sprain) – OUT
- Suns – Chris Paul – (COVID-19 protocols) – OUT
Vs. The Spread:
Clippers (47-37-1, ATS)
- The OVER has been the call in 4 of the last 5 Clippers’ games vs. a team with a winning % over .600
- The OVER has also been the play in 4 of LA’s last 5 games when playing on one day rest
- The OVER has been the call in 4 of the Clippers’ last 5 games
Suns (50-30-2, ATS)
- The Suns are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 games
- The Suns are also 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games after a win
- The UNDER is 8-2 in the Suns’ last 10 games when playing on 3 or more days rest
Advantage, Los Angeles:
The Clippers have to turn their collective attention toward the Suns, not even 48 hours after their spellbinding Game 6 clinching 131-119 win over top-seed Utah (see above). Paul George has been a solid contributor across the boards in these playoffs for the Clippers as he has taken over the team as a leader with Kawhi Leonard shelved with the knee injury. George, who is averaging 26.1 points during the playoffs, also has had plenty of success against the Suns this season as he led LA in scoring in each of the three games.
Key Clippers Stat:
Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris are the two likely Clippers to step in beside George and score as Jackson is shooting 50.5 percent and averaging 16.6 point in the Clips’ 13 games. After struggling with four points in Game 4, he stepped up and averaged 24.5 points in the last two games in making 18-of-31 shots including six threes in Games 5 and 6. Morris has struggled overall during the playoffs in averaging 12.2 points as he tallied only single digits in four of the Clippers’ six games vs the Jazz. He had 24 and 25 points in Games 4 and 5, respectively.
How Terrance Mann bounces back will be an interesting storyline as he was invincible in the third quarter in getting to the basket and hitting the three. Mann made his first career postseason start in game 5 where he had 13 points. It is well known that he is a hard worker and he expects to play like he did Friday night when he hits the floor. He will need a solid game again with the Clips’ rotation shortened.
|Teams||Spread||Money Line||Total Points|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+4 (-110)||+150||O 221½ (-110)|
|Phoenix Suns||-4 (-110)||-170||U 221½ (-110)|
The educated guess is that Cam Payne will get the call on the point in Paul’s absence as he has averaged 21 minutes off the bench and 10.2 points. Payne is like the rest of the Suns’ guard in that he can nail the three as 14 of his 17 makes in the playoffs have been threes. These two teams are tied with Milwaukee with 15.7 points off turnovers per game in the playoffs. Payne’s ball-handling now comes under the microscope as he is averaging 3.5 per game in the playoffs. Devin Booker is leading the Orange Planet in scoring (27.9 ppg) as he has made 23 triples while shooting 48.7 percent from the floor and netting 66-of-72 free throws (91.1%).
Key Suns Stat:
The Suns’ three-point defense is a cause for concern for the Clippers, who led the league at 41.1 percent this season. Phoenix allowed opponents only 35.6 percent (5th/NBA) during the season and that stat has fallen to 32.1 percent in the ten playoff games. The Clippers have shot 40.1 percent in their 13 playoff games, so they are night around their normal haul. These three-point numbers are fascinating in this matchup.
De’Andre Ayton’s (14.4 ppg, 10.5 rpg) length in the middle against the long, athletic Clippers is a big plus for the Suns. Obviously, he affects shots on defense and he stayed out of foul trouble vs. Nikola Jokic in the sweep of the Nuggets. Ayton’s presence on the glass will be a plus as the Clippers were more physical that Utah and that showed up on the boards. Phoenix is last in the NBA Playoffs among the 16 teams with only 7.4 offensive boards per game. If the shooting is off, Ayton and Mikal Bridges can have a big influence on the game if they pound the glass.
Winner: Suns (-4) 116, Clippers 108