Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns – NBA, June 22, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| June 22, 2021 9:49 am PDT

The Clippers battle the Suns at the Phoenix Suns Arena tonight as they look to level the series before it heads to Los Angeles for the first time.

The Suns won a high-scoring, entertaining match in game one as they looked to lay down a marker in the series. As you would expect, it was a tight matchup, and it was all square heading into the final period. It looked at that point that the game could go either way as the lead changed hands 20 times during the match. However, the Suns pulled away in the final period to claim the victory.

When you look at the head to head between these two, it was no surprise that was a close game as they have now shared the previous eight matches with four win apiece. Although things have been close between these two and the Suns winning by six last time out, if you look back over the previous ten meetings between them, it’s the Clippers that have averaged six more points per game. This has been the result of quick starts, as they have taken an average lead of five points into the second half.

The Clippers should be confident of getting back in this tie tonight, but will they? Let’s take a look in my Clippers vs. Suns betting preview.

Clippers vs. Suns Odds

Clippers +5.5-110
Suns -5.5-110
Clippers To Win+185
Suns To Win-210
Over 224 Points-110
Under 224 Points-110

The spread has increased by a point and a half and reflects the outcome of game one. The points total has increased significantly by four and a half points and now looks about right.

Clippers Comebacks

The Clippers have been renowned as the comeback kings during their playoff run, so they won’t push the panic button here. They fell behind against both Dallas and Utah in the previous rounds but recovered well. However, they will be so concerned about their poor performances on the road over the last week as they have now lost three of their previous four away fixtures.

What can the Clippers build on from game one? Well, to start with, it was a great team effort, as they contributed 36-points from the bench. This was 14 more pointers for the Suns, and the fact they rotated more than Phoenix, should mean they are the less fatigued team as the series progresses.

In attack, they need to move the ball much quicker than they did, and in defense, they need to get in the faces of the Suns. Phoenix finished with a field goal percentage of 55%, which the Clippers couldn’t get close to. They will need to ensure this is under 50% to stand any chance of toppling the Suns.

Game two has not been kind to the Clippers in the playoffs recently as they have lost their previous four matches. However, the last time they met the Suns in the playoffs back in 2006, they did win game two but lost the series 4-3.

Here are the latest betting trends for Los Angeles:

Against The Spread

  • They have won four of their previous five matches.
  • LA is 14-6 in their last 20 games with the Suns.
  • The Clippers have won nine of their previous 13 matches against teams from the Pacific Division.

These trends are good news for the Clippers and point towards at least winning with the handicap tonight.

Points Total

  • Five of their last six games have gone over the betting total.
  • The total has gone over in six of their previous nine matches on the road.

This points towards another high-scoring game in the series.

Other Pointers

  • They have won their last five games.
  • The Clippers have only lost four of their previous 20 matches against the Suns.
  • LA is 8-3 when playing on the road against Phoenix.

Again, the omens look good for the Clippers here, and they could prove that game one was a mere slip-up on their way to claiming a series win.

Although the Clippers shot at 45% from the field goal range in game one, they generally have shot much better in the playoffs and have a success rate of 49%. However, they maintained their great three-point percentage, which hasn’t dipped below 40% so far in the playoffs. They have also been successful from the free-throw line, proving what a good shooting unit they have in the team.

This has meant they have averaged a healthy 115-points per game, which is amongst the highest in the playoffs this season.

As I touched upon earlier, the Clippers didn’t make many assists in game one but looking at their stats across the playoffs; they haven’t given the ball away much. This is, of course, good news, but there appears to be a reluctance to move the ball around the court. If they are not going to defend better, then this could become a problem.

Their defense hasn’t been brilliant over the last week or so, as they have conceded scores of 119, 119, and 120 in-game one’s defeat. They need to improve their defensive rebounding as they are giving their opponents too many second chances. This hasn’t been helped by the absence of one of their talisman, Kahwi Leonard. Unfortunately, Leonard looks set to miss game two also tonight as the Clippers and the neutral fans are robbed of seeing one of the best talents in the NBA in the Conference Finals.

However, they are making many steals per game which has been both their best defending asset and their best way of retrieving possession given their poor rebounding stats. Nicolas Batum has been pivotal in this department, but he needs to ensure he doesn’t overstep the mark as he did in game one. All that appeared to do was fire up the Suns.

As well as Leonard, the Clippers will miss Ibaka tonight as he has been ruled out for the season with a back injury. However, they are hopeful to have Morris playing tonight following his recent knee problem.

The Suns Are Scorching Hot

The Suns are scorching hot right now and have now won their previous eight games in a row, considering all these matches have been playoff games as a remarkable feat. The wins have also come against the Lakers, the Nuggets, and the Clippers.

Phoenix may not have the pedigree or fit the profile of NBA champions, but it surprises me how others are still surprised they are doing so well this season. As I always say, the stats speak for themselves.

They have made the Phoenix Suns Arena somewhat of a fortress recently as they have only lost two of their previous 21 games there. The only two teams to beat them are the Lakers and the Spurs, and the key to those victories was stopping the Suns’ attack.

Phoenix had one way of playing in game one, and that was taking the ball as close to the basket as possible and dominating the paint. The Clippers had no answer for this, and in Leonard’s absence, you have to feel the game plan will be much the same again tonight. The Suns moved the ball around the court at great speed as they racked up 12 more fast-break points than LA. And if the Clippers thought they could rough up the Suns, they will need to think again as Phoenix didn’t miss a single shot from the free-throw line all night.

The Suns have a much better record in game two than the Clippers, as they have won three of their previous four matchups.

Here are the latest betting trends for Phoenix:

Against The Spread

  • They have won their previous eight matches in a row.

This is self-explanatory and highlights what a touch task the Clippers have tonight.

Points Total

  • Four of their last six games have gone over the betting total.
  • The total has gone over in 11 of their previous 16 matches played on a Tuesday.

All signs point to a high-scoring, entertaining game.

Much like the Clippers, the Suns have shot well throughout the playoffs, especially from the field goal range and the free-throw line, where they have the best record to date.

Their offensive rebounding has been poor; however, they did manage to win this battle in game one, and you feel this could be the critical area in the series. Their defensive rebounding has been excellent in contrast and is amongst the best in the playoffs.

Nobody has moved the ball around the court as well as the Suns in the playoffs, which has led to the highest number of old assists so far.

Their defense remains disciplined, particularly at home. The 114-points the Clippers scored last time was the most they have conceded for six games.

Perhaps their biggest strength has been their decisiveness, which is something the Clippers have lacked in the playoffs at times. They have come into each game with a clear game plan, and they have executed that superbly most nights.

The Suns will also miss one of their key players again as Chris Paul is out in quarantine. They will also Nader, who is out for the season with a knee injury.

My Pick for Clippers vs. Suns Game Two

Pick
  • Over 224 Points
    -110

At this early stage in the series, you feel this is a pivotal moment that could significantly affect the outcome of this tie. Although the Clippers have overcome a 2-0 deficit twice already in the playoffs, going 2-0 down against the Suns could be a different proposition. They need to ensure they have a clear game plan heading into this one as they looked a little lost towards the later stages of the previous game.

Without Kahwi Leonard, that game plan indeed has to be to attack and try to match the Suns’ offense as they don’t appear to be able to stop them. Therefore, this could be yet another high-scoring matchup. The two teams have combined for an averaged of 226-points in the playoffs so far, which would see them over the line tonight.

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