Even without Kevin Durant this game will still have no shortage of star players as the LA Clippers and Phoenix Suns battle it out before the All-Star break. This matchup will have to hold us over for a week as play resumes next Thursday with the All-Star weekend in between. Both teams just sit a game ahead of the play-in tournament seeding, both looking to pad their lead to avoid extra games before the playoffs. In a crucial matchup between two star studded teams, who comes out on top?
LA Clippers vs Phoenix Suns Prediction
The Pick: Wait on LAC spread
With that said, I am backing the Clippers but will wait to see how high this number can go in my favor before putting a position on them. This line movement is especially curious when you see that the Clippers outmatch the Suns starting lineup in terms of production, as well as a massive advantage when they get into bench minutes. The Suns trading away Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson have depleted their scoring production, especially since Kevin Durant has yet to return to fill the void.
With a lack of consistent scorers brings danger for the Suns as the Clippers run as one of the most efficient defenses in the league. They guard the perimeter especially well, hounding playmakers and forcing them into low quality looks at the rim. Kawhi plays a massive role in their defense, most likely picking up Devin Booker as his assignment to make his life a living nightmare. Even when battling through injuries, Kawhi plays as one of the best on ball defenders in the league.
It doesn’t stop there either; the Clippers also excel at limiting two-point conversions near the rim with an elite interior defense. Ivica Zubac has taken a massive stride in his interior defense, turning into a true anchor for the defense. This is especially vital as the Suns will look towards Ayton for interior scoring. Ayton has a tendency to shy away from physicality, easily being rattled and disrupting his rhythm. Simply put, points are going to be hard to come by for the Suns.
LA Clippers vs Phoenix Suns Betting Odds
Oddsmakers have this about a near coin flip, slightly leaning towards the Clippers favor by opening them as a -1.5 favorite. Bettors have been quick to pounce the other side, taking the Suns down to a -1 favorite as of writing. This line movement is especially curious, even after Kawhi Leonard was announced good to go for the contest. The Suns lack serious depth until Kevin Durant is cleared to play, allowing the Clippers to keep the pressure applied over the course of a full game.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 223.5. Bettors are tempering their expectations of points being put on the board, backing the under down to as low as 221.5. This comes as no surprise as the confirmation of Kawhi playing means the Clippers add a key piece to their perimeter defense. Phoenix runs as a well-oiled offensive machine, now having to find an answer against the elite Clippers defense.