Must win? Not quite. But the Clippers would do well to not have their backs up against the wall for once. Read on to see my Clippers vs. Suns prediction for game 2.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns Prediction
Game 1 of Clippers Suns was everything anyone could have expected considering arguably the two best players in the series were missing.
Paul George and Devin Booker put on a shot-making clinic for much of the game before the Suns eventually took control early on in the fourth quarter. Booker was just a little bit better than George, but the gap wasn’t as large as that between his Phoenix teammates and the collective group of Clippers there to assist their remaining star.
If you take away Paul George’s seven made triples in 15 attempts from behind the arc, Los Angeles was 13-for-32 from behind the arc for a 40 percent clip. That’s not a bad number, but against a team rolling like Phoenix is right now, it’s not where it needs to be for the Leonard-less Clippers to have a chance. In particular, Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris and Nic Batum combining to go 5-for-21 from deep is the clearest explanation for why LA is down 0-1.
It laid the groundwork for what feels like a series that will go decidedly in the Suns favor for as long as Kawhi Leonard is out, which he is for at least Game 2. Phoenix has now won eight playoff games in a row, and they look completely in command on offense.
We also have enough evidence from the Clippers to know that they don’t usually show up until their backs are absolutely pressed against the wall. They went down 0-2 in both of the previous two series during this postseason, so it’s not like we should be expecting them to view this as a must win.
The one concern: it took a 40-point triple double from Booker for Phoenix to come out with a six-point win when everyone on their team played well. If he doesn’t have another otherworldly performance in him, where does that leave the Suns, who are still without Chris Paul?
This line is large enough that LA could cover and lose. Here’s betting that’s exactly what happens.
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