NBA Playoffs Western Conference Finals series predictions - Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns: Chris Paul’s time to shine

Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns
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Filip Tomic

NBA

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Long time NBA fan, have been following the game closely for 21 years now. Joining the Pickswise writing staff for the 2020-21 season. Hopefully we can make some money together! Oh, and I firmly believe Lebron James is not one of the two best basketball players of all time. Yeah, I said it.

It’s crunch time in the NBA Playoffs now as the Western Conference finals get underway, with the Los Angeles Clippers ready to do battle with the Phoenix Suns for a spot in the NBA finals. Let’s break it all down.

NBA Championship Odds

Here are the current odds on each remaining team to win the NBA Championship, courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook:

Milwaukee Bucks: -105

Phoenix Suns: +135

Los Angeles Clippers: +850

Atlanta Hawks: +1200

Check out our full game preview for Game 1 of Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns Predictions

Series odds:

Phoenix Suns: -198

Los Angeles Clippers: +166

Despite not having Chris Paul in Game 1 (and potentially even Game 2) due to health and safety protocols, oddsmakers still favor the Phoenix Suns coming into this series. After a hard-fought win over the Lakers in the first round, the Suns swept the Denver Nuggets in the Conference semi-finals and have now had seven days to rest and prepare for this series. Players like Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton are playing some of the best basketball of their careers and it’s all thanks to Chris Paul, who has this team peaking at just the right time. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle his absence in the first game(s) of this series.

The Clippers also suffered a massive setback when Kawhi Leonard injured his knee in Game 4 against the Utah Jazz. Or so we thought. L.A. turned it up in the final two games and eliminated the heavily favored Jazz to notch their first appearance in the Western Conference Finals after 51 years. Paul George, Reggie Jackson, and Terance Mann filled in the void, but if Leonard is out for the remainder of this postseason I don’t give the Clippers much of a chance in the long run. In the series against Utah, the Clippers were impressive on the offensive end averaging 127.7 points per 100 possessions, which was the second most efficient series in the last 25 years. However, I have my doubts about them keeping that up without their best player.

Be sure to check out our same game parlay for Clippers vs. Suns (+1226 odds!)

Recent head-to-head meetings

The two teams squared off three times in the regular season with the Clippers coming out on top twice in those three meetings. L.A. won the first meeting in Phoenix 112-107 back in early January thanks to 39 points from Paul George. They faced off again at the start of April at Staples Center and it was the Clippers again with the win 113-103. Paul George cooked the Suns for 33 points in that game, while Leonard added 27 of his own. Phoenix finally ended the streak with a win on their home floor at the end of April, it finished 109-101 behind Chris Paul’s 28 points and 10 assists.

Final thoughts

The availability of star players could be a big factor in how this series plays out. CP3 isn’t expected to miss extended time, he could be back as soon as Game 2, there’s really no point in saying how much better the Suns are when he plays. Kawhi Leonard did not even make the trip to Phoenix for the first two games of the series, there are rumors of a possible ACL injury that would keep him out for the remainder of the season if true. Although the Clippers beat the team with the best record in the Western Conference, it has to be said that Donovan Mitchell wasn’t at 100 percent and Mike Conley missed five of the six games in that series.

On the other hand, Phoenix has the best net rating out of all the teams so far in the playoffs, they also have the best three-point shooting defense which is a massive boost to their chances here. The Clippers ranked 28th in the league in field goals made within five feet or less, so if Phoenix takes out their three-point shooting it’s game over for PG13 and the rest of those guys. I expect a chippy series, just like it was during the regular season. I just cannot wait to see Chris Paul vs. Rajon Rondo, there’s a history of on-court incidents between those two. Overall, I’d give Phoenix the edge here as they have home-court advantage and because of Kawhi’s injury LA no longer has the two best players in this series.

Verdict: Phoenix Suns in 6

Be sure to check out our NBA Playoffs Sunday mega parlay (+1340 odds!)

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