Eastern Conference Finals
Suns (11-4, 3-2) at Clippers (10-7, 2-3)
- Time: 6PM PST – 8PM CST – 9PM EST
- Place: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
- TV: ESPN
The Clippers stay alive on Monday night with a 116-102 win over the Suns as Paul George had potentially the best game of his career, definitely the best playoff game, 3 in scoring 41 points with 13 rebounds and three assists.
George scored 20 of those points in the third quarter as he made 7-of-8 shots from the field with three triples as LA took a 91-78 lead after three quarters.
Reggie Jackson added 23 and Marcus Morris netted 22 as he got the Clippers rolling with 13 in the first quarter as Los Angeles shot 65.2 percent in the first quarter and took a 36-26 lead after 12 minutes.
Quizzically for Phoenix was how the Clippers outscored them 58-32 in the paint in shooting 54.2 percent for the game.
Devin Booker led the Suns with 31 points while Chris Paul scored 22.
Suns coach Monty Williams was rightfully aggravated with why his team did not meet the aggression and the urgency that Los Angeles did, especially since Phoenix was playing an elimination game to ink a date in the NBA Finals.
The Clippers are pushing their physicality to the limits in this series as Patrick Beverly threw a body block into Paul while he was in the air and the referees did not call a Flagrant-2 and eject Beverly. What made it more ridiculous is that PatBev danced and mocked Paul while he was laying on the floor and shaking off the hit.
Beverly broke Devin Booker’s nose with a head-butt in Game 2 and the NBA didn’t come down on his actions then. The Suns cannot let Beverly or the Clippers’ ideas that they have to turn this series into an overly physical series get into their collective heads with one game remaining to win.
- Phoenix Suns – N/A
- Los Angeles Clippers – Kawhi Leonard (right knee sprain); Serge Ibaka (back) – OUT; Ivica Zubac (knee) – Day to Day
Vs. The Spread
Suns (52-33-2, ATS):
- The Suns clock in at 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games
- Phoenix is 6-14 ATS in their last 20 games vs. the Clippers
- The Orange Planet is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 road games
Clippers (50-38-2, ATS):
- Los Angeles is 7-2 ATS in it’s last 9 outings
- The total has gone UNDER in 5 of the last 7 Clippers-Suns games
- The Clippers are 14-2 SU in their last 16 home games vs. Phoenix
Getting refocused and letting all of the unnecessary grandstanding of the Clippers go will be a key for Phoenix. We know that Devin Booker (27.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg – po) and Chris Paul (16.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg) are going to score and facilitate, so now Phoenix has to get Deandre Ayton back in his comfort zone after scoring only 10 points on nine field-goal attempts on Monday night. Ayton is averaging 16.2 points and 11.1 rebounds in the playoffs while shooting 70 percent from the floor in 35.7 minutes per game.
Key Suns Stat:
Role players outside of Booker/Paul/Ayton have to be steady and put more pressure on the Clippers’ defense. Cameron Johnson has taken his game to another level in this series and his confidence is brimming. He had 14 on Monday night and his 23 triples in the playoffs are fourth on the team.
Cam Payne had a rough Game 5 as he and Mikal Bridges only had five points each and Jae Crowder had four. There was no supplementation out of this group and that has to be a main theme this evening.
Phoenix has to rediscover its defense as Ayton has to be more aggressive in the middle when George, Terance Mann, or Reggie Jackson find a driving lane into the paint. With that in mind, the Suns’ perimeter has to cut those away so LA doesn’t put up 58 points in the lane once again as they are averaging 39.9 points in the paint in the playoffs.
The Clips have shot 41 percent from the field in their three losses which proves the Suns have to play more of a tempo pace in keeping LA out of transition and out of rhythm. Phoenix is third in the league in averaging 16 points per game off turnovers in the playoffs.
|Teams||Spread||Money Line||Total Points|
|Suns||-1 (-110)||–||O 215 (-110)|
|Clippers||+1 (-110)||–||U 215 (-110)|
Advantage, Los Angeles
Paul George is pushing his game forward with every game in being a leader with Kawhi Leonard missing the last seven games. Reggie Jackson is cresting in averaging 25.8 points in this series as George’s level of play and his push is making Jackson the best version of himself. Los Angeles will need another strong defensive game out of its role players on the Phoenix role players. The pressure is now on the Suns, but also on the Clippers’ defense.
Key Clippers Stat:
Marcus Morris getting off to such a good start with 13 points the first quarter set the pace for Los Angeles and allowed George time to find his rhythm. Once, LA got it’s rhythm in the first quarter, it kept generating and Phoenix did nothing to turn them back.
Morris hadn’t scored in double figures in five games until those 22 on Monday night, so the jury is out on what kind of game to expect. If he scores, the Clippers are a major issue for Phoenix.
Los Angeles has to figure out what to do with Deandre Ayton as it stands to figure he will be back at full strength on both ends of the floor in this game. Ivica Zubac doesn’t have anywhere near the athleticism to match Ayton on either end, so this is where he plays overly physical and puts the onus on the referees to decide what to call.
Demarcus Cousins is a better option as he had 15 points in Game 5, but his lack of focus and inability to stay in the moment ultimately will cost the Clippers.
Winner: Suns (-1) 108, Clippers 104 (-110)