Sunday night features a fantastic Western Conference matchup as the No. 5 Los Angeles Clippers (44-38) take on the No. 4 Phoenix Suns (45-37). The Suns will host this one at the Footprint Center, with tipoff scheduled for 8:00 pm ET.
The Suns are the favorite in this one playing at home. They are -290 to win, while the Clippers’ moneyline sits at +235. The spread features Los Angeles as 7-point underdogs (-106), and the over/under for total points is 226.
Los Angeles Hopes To Overcome Major Injury As Road Underdogs
When healthy, the Los Angeles Clippers are one of the best teams in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, they are without superstar Paul George, who is out with a knee injury. It is a brutal loss, given he averaged 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game.
With George out, Kawhi Leonard is going to have to shoulder the weight of carrying the team as road underdogs. In 52 games, Leonard is averaging 23.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
Other contributors for the Clippers include Norman Powell (17 points, 2.9 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (15.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists).
As a unit, they rank 18th in scoring, averaging 113.6 points per game (126.7 over their last three games). Los Angeles ranks 12th in scoring defense, allowing opponents an average of 113.1 points per game (115.6 on the road).
Interestingly, and what should give the Clippers a little bit of hope, these two teams split their regular season series, with the road team winning every game.
Suns Hope To Jump Out To Early Series Lead
When the Phoenix Suns made their blockbuster trade to acquire Kevin Durant at the trade deadline, the postseason is when they knew he could make the biggest impact. Now, with high expectations, they hope to jump out to an early series lead with a win Sunday.
Offensively, the Suns ranked 17th in scoring, averaging 113.6 points per game. It is worth noting, though, that Durant only played in eight games. Over that span, he averaged 26 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game.
Between Durant, Devin Booker (27.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists), DeAndre Ayton (18 points, ten rebounds), and Chris Paul (13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists), the Suns are loaded with talent.
Defensively, the Suns are one of the best in the NBA. They rank sixth in scoring defense, allowing opponents an average of 111.6 points per game (109.2 at home).
Take Phoenix To Win And Cover
Looking at the trends, the Clippers are 5-2 in their last seven games; however, they are just 1-4 against the spread in both their last five games overall and their last five against the Suns.
As for Phoenix, they are 7-2 straight up and 6-3 against the spread in their last nine games. In their last seven games at home, they are 6-1.
This one comes down to Paul George. If he were healthy, the tandem of George and Kawhi Leonard could run with just about anyone in the NBA. With George out, though, it is just too heavy of a burden to put on Leonard’s shoulder.
Expect Phoenix to win this first one relatively easily at home. Take them to win and to cover the 7-point spread (-114).