The NBA’s Western Conference definitely has seen a new dynamic develop over the past month. Although the defending champion Lakers remain the team to beat, injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis have knocked them down to fifth in the standings. The Jazz have raced out to a league-best 38-13 record but saw their lead in the West trimmed to just 1.5 games in an overtime loss in Phoenix on Wednesday night.
The home team survived blowing a late lead by making winning plays in overtime, pulling off a 117-113 upset of Utah. Suns at Clippers picks and predictions will fixate on whether bettors believe they’ll have the legs to handle the Clips, who are in the midst of a season-long nine-game homestand and will be playing just their fourth game this month.
Phoenix is also playing in its fourth April contest and comes in 3-0, part of seven-game winning streak that makes up a 10-1 run that has catapulted the Suns towards the top of the NBA. Los Angeles is favored due to the back-to-back factor and won the first meeting between these teams 112-107 at the “Purple Palace” on Jan. 3. The teams will play one more time on April 28.
- Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns
- Time/Venue: 10:10 p.m. ET, Staples Center
- TV: TNT
CP3-Booker All-Star Backcourt Emerges as NBA’s Best
The plan when the season began was for Chris Paul to come in and help the Suns reach new heights. They haven’t sported a winning record since 2013-14 and didn’t even reach the playoffs following an 8-0 run in the bubble last August.
It’s hard for things to go as scripted, particularly in this day and age, but Paul is delivering on teaching young guys like Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton what it takes to consistently win in this league. Barring an injury-related collapse, Phoenix will make its first postseason appearance since 2010, the last season that Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire played together.
Booker made the All-Star team for the second time and is averaging just over 26 points per game for the third straight year, but it’s Paul who has really made the difference with his leadership and getting teammates in a rhythm night after night by getting them the ball in the right spots. Phoenix is now 18-6 against teams at or above .500, the NBA’s top record against winning opponents.
Booker scored 35 points and the 35-year-old Paul added 29 points and nine assists to help fend off Utah on Thursday. Paul’s huge 3-pointer gave Phoenix a six-point overtime lead and he’s averaging 21.7 points and 10.7 assists through three wins this month, so it’s clear that he’s got plenty left in the tank and is turning it on at the right time.
Ayton followed up a 27-point, 11-rebound game against the Rockets on Monday with 18 points, 12 boards, and three blocks in dueling with Utah’s Rudy Gobert. The 2018 draft’s top pick hasn’t had the impact of No. 3 pick Luka Doncic of the Mavericks but is nonetheless improving and should play a major role in this stretch run. Phoenix is 7-4 ATS during this 10-1 run and has seen the ‘over’ prevail in five consecutive games, although Wednesday’s was aided by overtime.
Clippers Back At Full Strength for Stretch Run
Paul George has been in and out of the lineup for the Clippers due to a nagging toe injury but it’s looking increasingly likely that he’ll simply have to play through it and deal with the pain and swelling. Back-to-backs may not be in the cards for George, which means he may sit for Friday’s game against Houston but is expected to take part against Phoenix.
George comes off a 36-point game in Tuesday’s 133-116 win over Portland, pouring in 22 in an opening quarter to fuel a 47-point outburst despite Kawhi Leonard scoring only four while dishing out four assists. Point guard Patrick Beverley is back in the mix as well after missing nearly a month due to a knee issue. He returned with a minutes restriction and played only 20 as he ramps back up. Look for him to play roughly 20-25 minutes against the Suns.
Leonard finished with 29 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists, the latter both team-highs, in L.A.’s win over Portland. He’s averaged over 25 points and eight rebounds over the past six games after also dealing with nagging injuries. L.A. has won eight of 10 and has defeated the 76ers, Bucks, and Lakers in addition to the Blazers on this current homestand that will culminate with games against Houston and Detroit this weekend.
Suns at Clippers picks and predictions will weigh whether Tyronn Lue’s team can continue their dominant play against one of the NBA’s top defensive teams. All four of their victories on this homestand have come by double-digits, while their two losses saw them fail to top the century mark. The Clips have covered the number in 16 consecutive victories. They won on the road in Phoenix as a 3.5-point favorite on Jan. 3.
Sports Betting Line Analysis
The Clippers are favored for the fifth straight game on this homestand after closing as a 1-point underdog against the Bucks. BetRivers lists L.A. as a favorite of five points, which is where FanDuel, DraftKings, William Hill books, the Westgate SuperBook, and BetMGM all have it placed as of Thursday morning.
The total opened at 224 at Westgate, William Hill, BetRivers, FanDuel and has stayed put. The number has fluctuated some at DraftKings and was available at 223.5 at the time of this writing.
The first matchup between these teams saw the number set at 216. Phoenix’s OT win over Utah closed at 227, which tied for its ninth highest number on the season. The Suns will be underdogs in consecutive games for just the third instance.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch
The Clippers are missing one key contributor in starting center Serge Ibaka, who has been sidelined with back soreness and is out indefinitely. New addition DeMarcus Cousins debuted for L.A. against Portland, playing just under eight minutes and scoring seven points while adding four rebounds. Rajon Rondo is also getting up to speed with the Clips after being acquired at the trade deadline.
The Suns are without only one player who typically finds time in Monty Williams rotation since wing Abdel Nader is dealing with a knee issue and is also out indefinitely.
Suns at Clippers Handicapping Notes and Pick
Paul is playing tremendous ball but has only played in three back-to-backs since late February. Phoenix is 2-1 in the back half of those sets, losing to Orlando in upset fashion. Paul has averaged 20.7 points and 10 assists in those games, which came against the Timberwolves, Magic, and Bulls. This will be a much tougher test.
Leonard and George will have to deal with Jae Crowder and Booker, so both will have their hands full finding a rhythm. Considering the playoff feel this one packs, expecting a lower-scoring game is the way to go.