Los Angeles Clippers vs Phoenix Suns 1/6/22: Starting Lineups, Matchup Preview, Betting Odds, Live Stream

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns Matchup Preview (1/6/22)

The Phoenix Suns (29-8) host the Los Angeles Clippers (19-19) Thursday night in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals. The matchup, however, is drastically different due to injury and COVID protocols. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, leaders of last year’s squad, remain out with injuries. The Clippers have relied on Reggie Jackson (16.9 PPG) and Marcus Morris (15.2 PPG) during this stretch without George. The stifling defense has resulted in the 4th best defensive rating (106.4). The lineup may see multiple starters and impact players return to action. Ivica Zubac, Luke Kennard, and Brandon Boston Jr. (COVID) are game time decisions. Nicolas Batum and Isaiah Hartenstein (ankle) are also game time decisions. Even if only two or three of these players were able to return, it would be a huge boost to the depleted Clippers depth chart. Last game, the Clippers lost by 18 to the Timberwolves, who were missing Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell. The Timberwolves grabbed 11 offensive rebounds and dished out 34 assists. The defense was not capable of performing to their normal level of play. Without the return of their players, the outcome against the Suns looks bleak. 

The Suns enter Thursday’s contest on a two game winning streak with victories over the Charlotte Hornets and New Orleans Pelicans. The Suns have not scored below 100 points since December 13th against the Clippers and use their lethal guard combo to generate points. Booker is scoring 23.9 PPG on a career high 42% from three. At 36 years old, Chris Paul is leading the league with 10.1 APG while being tied-3rd in steals per game (1.9). Paul and Booker complement each other perfectly, as Paul handles playmaking and defense, while Booker handles scoring and secondary playmaking. Along with them, the Suns have a likely All-Defensive 1st Team selection in Mikal Bridges. Bridges has held opponents to a paltry 29.9 3PT% while shooting 40.9% from deep himself. He is the premier 3&D player in the NBA and gives the Suns a versatile weapon to throw at any team. For this contest, Deandre Ayton, Jae Crowder, Javale McGee, and Abdel Nader (COVID) are game time decisions. Frank Kaminsky (knee) and Landry Shamet (COVID) are expected to be out. A return from Ayton or McGee would replenish the center rotation for the Suns and give them more options in the paint. 

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns Betting Odds

In their only previous matchup on December 13th, the Clippers won 111-95. Ayton and Booker did not play, while Paul struggled mightily to the tune of 9 points and 8 assists on 4/14 shooting from the field. The star of the game was Marcus Morris, who carried the game with Paul George being out. Morris scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds on 10/16 shooting. For this matchup, I like the Suns to even the series in a close game. I am going with the Suns moneyline and would bet up to -6.5 if Zubac and Kennard do not return. If they do, it will be closer than it seems on paper, and I would bet up to -3.5 Suns for the spread. Chris Paul should have a better shooting night than he produced last time these teams met on the court.

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TV Schedule

Date: 1/6/22
Time: 10:00 PM ET
Arena: Footprint Center – Phoenix, AZ
Channel: TNT, BSW

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Los Angeles Clippers Starting Lineup

PG: Reggie Jackson 
SG: Eric Bledsoe
SF: Terance Mann
PF: Marcus Morris Sr.
C: Ivica Zubac 

Los Angeles Clippers Analysis

The Clippers will lean heavily on Marcus Morris, Terance Mann, Reggie Jackson, and Eric Bledose this matchup. In order to counter the Suns backcourt, Jackson must hit 20 points and help create shots for teammates. Eric Bledsoe has never been a marksman with the ball, but he brings defensive toughness and opportunistic scoring. He scores 10.4 PPG and swipes 1.3 SPG. His playmaking – 4.1 APG – has allowed the Clippers to run lineups with multiple players that can create shots for others. Mann brings a versatile skill set to the roster. He is either grabbing 8 rebounds or dishing out 7 assists on any given night. Mann has the capability to score 15 points in addition to his other contributions. 

In the 17 games Morris has played in, he has scored at least 20 points eight times while only scoring below 10 points four times. With George out, Morris has shown glimpses of excellent isolation scoring. If he harnesses these tools and learns to use them when the playoffs occur, the Clippers will be a threat to make a deep run. Defenses will have a hard enough time trying to contain Kawhi and George, but adding Morris and Jackson to that equation will cause opponents to pick their poison. The Clippers have a bright future when their whole roster is healthy; they have star power, depth, and experience. The problem has been getting that roster to see the floor together. 

Phoenix Suns Starting Lineup

PG: Chris Paul
SG: Devin Booker
SF: Mikal Bridges
PF: Jae Crowder
C: Deandre Ayton

Phoenix Suns Analysis

The Suns are building upon their Finals appearance and using their chemistry to consistently out-play opponents. Their core from last season – Paul, Booker, Payne, Bridges, Crowder, Johnson, Ayton – is thriving. However, new additions have bolstered their weaknesses and made the team more complete. New backup center JaVale McGee is averaging 10.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 0.9 BPG in only 16.3 MPG. His 24.9 PER and 2.1 BPM show he has been efficient and consistent in his opportunities. Along with McGee, the Suns have seen increased spacing from sniper Landry Shamet. He is a career 39.2 3PT% shooter and forces defenses to stay honest on the perimeter.

In terms of returning players, the story for the Suns this season is the development of the 2020 10th overall pick Jalen Smith. He was seen as a project going into the draft, and the Suns rightly gambled on his upside. With Ayton and McGee missing time recently, Smith has averaged 15.2 PPG and 9.4 RPG the last five games. While Smith does not have much range, he is a willing defender that gives the Suns versatility. Overall, the Suns should feel comfortable heading into this game. They have the talent and chemistry edge over the Clippers. It is a matter of producing at the level they can and continuing their run of dominance.

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns Daily Fantasy Picks

For this matchup, I like Marcus Morris and Cameron Johnson to play their best basketball. Morris will have the responsibility of being the main shot taker. He has been efficient recently even at high volume. His involvement on the boards makes him a safer pick that is not solely reliant on scoring. Look for Morris to produce around 20 points and 10 rebounds. As for Johnson, he has scored at least 10 points for the last 17 games straight. Recently, his numbers have jumped from about 12 points per game to him scoring in the 16-20 range. Johnson has been on fire this season (44 3PT%), and Monty Williams has given him more room to experiment on offense. He has had a bigger role the last few games, and I expect that to continue. Look for Johnson to score around 18 points and haul in 6 rebounds. 

* All stats per NBA.com

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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