- After knocking off the West’s top seed, the LA Clippers now sqaure off with the Phoenix Suns
- Phoenix swept the Denver Nuggets in Round 2 of the NBA Playoffs
- Read below for opening series odds analysis and a prediction on if the line will move or not before Game 1
The Los Angeles Clippers are in rareified air.
Without their superstar Kawhi Leonard, LA played two of their best games of the season to send the top-seeded Utah Jazz packing and advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history
But they’ll need to shake the euphoria and get down to business, as they enter the NBA Playoff final four as underdogs against the powerhouse Phoenix Suns, who’ve been waiting idly after sweeping the Nuggets in Round 2.
Clippers vs Suns Opening Series Odds
|Team||Odds at PointsBet|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+165|
Odds as of June 19th.
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Game 1 is set for Sunday, 3:30pm ET. Let’s break down this series and how you should be angling your wager.
We still don’t know Kawhi Leonard’s status for the rest of the playoffs since injuring his knee in the late stages of Game 4 against the Jazz. But what we know now is this team isn’t a one-trick pony.
Paul George over the last 5 games:
Revenge tour. 🔥🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/I3qmT0mE0f
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) June 19, 2021
Paul George shook the playoff failures of seasons past with a 37-point, 16-rebound, 5-assist to gem in the ultra-important Game 5 win, while going for 28 points, nine rebounds and seven dimes in the clincher.
He was buoyed by the emergence of youngster Terance Mann, who erupted for a career-high 39 points on 15-for-21 shooting in Game 6.
TERANCE MANN 🔥
39 PTS (Career-high)
100% Dunks on the DPOYpic.twitter.com/LFEj1blnuC
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) June 19, 2021
Reggie Jackson, plugged into the starting lineup to shake things up in the Dallas series, has been dynamite since. He finished with 27 points and 10 assists on 10-for-16 shooting to close out Utah.
If George stays hot and continues to get primo support, LA will have a fighting chance — not something anyone would have imagined without Leonard — or Serge Ibaka, who’s been shut down for the playoffs with a back ailment.
Paul Injury Dims Suns Outlook
While Leonard’s status is in limbo, the Phoenix Suns won’t know exactly when star point guard Chris Paul will be available after contracting COVID-19.
Jalen Rose says Chris Paul is vaccinated so this really may be a matter of CP3 having the worst playoff luck in NBA history
That’s just heartbreaking pic.twitter.com/Nv84D8TQQi
— Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) June 16, 2021
That’s a massive loss, especially considering we’d seen peak Paul in a demolition of the Nuggets in a sweep. He averaged 25.5 points for the series, including a 37-point bomb in the clincher. He also doled out 41 assists in the series against just five turnovers.
Devin Booker's mid-range variety last night
-Spinning 10-foot baseline fade
-Step in jumper
-Curling lefty floater
-Curling righty floater
-On-to-move angled bank to close the quarter pic.twitter.com/o8E3Z8G2su
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 12, 2021
But the Suns are still solid across the board, and Devin Booker will handle primary ball-handling duties and still be their top offesnive threat. Cam Payne, who’s been a stellar reserve these playoffs, should provide ball-handling and scoring, albeit down a level from Paul.
How They Match Up
The Clippers boast the second-best offensive rating in these playoffs, but the Suns counter with the second-best defensive rating. But Phoenix isn’t offensively challenged. They bend defenses with great motion and ball movement — their 24.7 assists per game is tops of any team still standing.
Phoenix Suns | Gut Actions
I LOVE Gut DHO’s/Zooms/Pins
Puts defense in a bind. Not used to guarding these actions in that space, and puts your best player(s) right in the middle of the floor. pic.twitter.com/8Wl8D3P7OO
— Andrew Ortelli (@Andrew_Ortelli) June 18, 2021
Pheonix has held their opponents to 100.8 points per game in their 10 starts, while limiting teams to 32.1% shooting from the three. How the Clips do there may determine the outcome of the series, as they’ve shot 39.1% on better than 36 attempts a game.
— GlendaleCardinals (@YotesGlendale) June 8, 2021
It will be interesting to see if LA’s small-ball lineups can neutralize Pheonix big man Deandre Ayton and turn him into a liability like they did with Rudy Gobert. Ayton is averaging 15.2 points and 10.6 boards on an incredible 71.6% from the field.
It’s ftting that LA starts as the underdog — they’ve fallen behind 2-0 in each of their first two series before rallying back.
There’s a chance these odds could move prior to Game 1, but it’s likely the status of Leonard and Paul won’t be revealed until late Saturday.
“If it's an ACL tear, recovery time for this type of knee injury is 9-12 months but if it's an ACL sprain recovery could be 3 – 6 weeks."@sportsdocmatt provides insight on @LAClippers' forward Kawhi Leonard's knee injury pic.twitter.com/Sls2wJWV1l
— The Association on FOX (@TheAssociation) June 18, 2021
Don’t expect LA’s odds to shorten too much, even if Leonard is announced a go for Game 1 — there still has to be lingering doubt as to how effective the 2019 Finals MVP be with a compromised knee.
Phoenix has shown itself to be a more complete team and should be able to hold the fort till Paul returns, making them the current best bet to take this series, at least before the games are played.