The Phoenix Suns (1-1) travel to face the Los Angeles Clippers (1-1) in Game 3 on Thursday night. Paul George remains out for Los Angeles, but Kawhi Leonard is also now out due to a knee sprain. Meanwhile, Cameron Payne is questionable to make his series debut for Phoenix. Can the Clippers mount any resistance with both of their stars absent?
Check out below for Suns vs. Clippers predictions, odds, trends, and starting lineups.
Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers Prediction
Prediction: Suns -7
I was leaning towards Clippers moneyline this game, and then the Kawhi Leonard news dropped. His injury completely swings this matchup so that Phoenix should cover 7.5 points the majority of the time.
Kawhi was averaging 34.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 6 APG on an absurd 54/60/88 shooting split. His unstoppable isolation offense, pick and roll impact, and playmaking frequently carried the offense due to highly desirable shot creation. He also cleaned up broken possessions with difficult shot-making.
Outside of Westbrook now, Los Angeles won’t have a primary playmaker to get open looks for role players. Westbrook has fatal flaws himself too. His shooting is erratic, and opponents can blunt his strengths in the half-court. Terance Mann will arguably be Los Angeles’ second best playmaker and ball handler, but that’s not a great role for him. Phoenix can place immense on-ball pressure on him now too in order to force mistakes.
Overall, the Clippers have the spot up shooters to punish help defense, but they no longer have the weapon to force the opponent to play help defense in the first place.
Meanwhile, Leonard harassed the Suns on defense; he could lockdown Paul, Booker, Durant, and Ayton for possessions in addition to disrupting the passing lanes. Leonard’s offense is a massive loss, but the same can be said about his defense.
It’s difficult to envision the Clippers keeping this a seven-point game because Leonard was essential to so many vital categories on both ends of the court. Barring a scorching three-point performance, Phoenix should win convincingly here.
Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers Betting Odds
Despite Kawhi’s injury, the spread actually slightly shrunk from Game 2 to a 7-point line. For Los Angeles’ +260 moneyline to hold a positive expected value, they must win at least 28% of the time. In other words, if this game was simulated 100 times, the Clippers would need to win 28 of them for their moneyline to be a profitable bet.
- Suns are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 road games
- Over is 7-1-1 in Suns last 9 road games
- Clippers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall
- Suns are 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings
- Over is 3-0-1 in the last 4 meetings
Which teams will win the game-determining matchups?
Russell Westbrook Shooting
Phoenix is daring Westbrook to shoot and leaving him completely open. He scored 9 points on 3/19 shooting in Game 1, but Russ followed that up with 28 points on 9/16 shooting in Game 2. Westbrook is perhaps the biggest “Jekyll and Hyde” player in the entire NBA; his efficiency is a mystery box every night. With Kawhi out, it’s essential that Westbrook unleashes every ounce of his scoring potential.
Clippers Offensive Rebounding
Los Angeles is +10.3% in net offensive rebound percentage this series, which would have easily led the NBA in the regular season. Ivica Zubac and Russell Westbrook are thrashing Phoenix on the glass and consistently providing second chance points – a category that considerably inflates offensive production. If the Clippers can rack up extra FGA, then they may be able to somewhat keep pace with the Suns.
🗣️ RUSS SAID COUNT IT! pic.twitter.com/Y3shxsgAPR
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) April 19, 2023
Phoenix Suns Starting Lineup
Los Angeles Clippers Starting Lineups
Phoenix Suns Injuries: Cameron Payne (Q)
Los Angeles Clippers Injuries: Kawhi Leonard (O), Paul George (O)