No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers
Line: Phoenix -6
Where: Phoenix Suns Arena
When: Tuesday, 6/22 at 9:00 p.m. ET
While Los Angeles and Phoenix might both have key players who are ‘out indefinitely,’ the Suns are in a much better position, especially after their win in Game 1 on Sunday afternoon.
Veteran point guard Chris Paul remains ‘day-to-day’ due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols after testing positive for COVID-19. Small forward Kawhi Leonard is dealing with a sprained ACL and did not travel with the Clippers for Game 1.
Oddsmakers have made an adjustment following the 120-114 final in the desert on Sunday. Phoenix closed as a 4-point favorite, but it has opened as a 6-point favorite for Game 2.
Paul seems more likely to play on Tuesday than Leonard, who is expected to remain in Los Angeles to receive treatment. The initial reports regarding Leonard’s injury was that an ACL issue was feared, but they’re waiting for the swelling to go down before conducting an MRI.
Sunday’s total closed at 221.5 points, while Tuesday’s number opened at 224.
Phoenix has now covered the number in seven straight games and is 18-2 straight up in its last 20 home games. The Clippers had won four in a row both SU and against the spread prior to Game 1. They’re 25-18 SU and 22-20-1 ATS in 43 road assignments this season.
Devin Booker stole the show on Sunday, pouring in 40 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists for his first career triple-double. The game was tied going into the fourth quarter, but the Suns put together a 12-2 run to take a 105-95 lead with 8:08 remaining.
Terance Mann hit a 3-pointer to pull the Clippers within two with 22 seconds left, but Booker answered with a dunk to seal his team’s eighth straight win. The Suns tacked on a pair of free throws to ensure the spread cover.
Paul George did his best to keep Los Angeles in the game with Leonard sidelined, scoring 34 points. He had an 8-0 solo run in the third quarter that was part of a 16-2 stretch that gave the Clippers a six-point lead.
Phoenix finished the regular season seventh in the NBA in points per game (115.3), while Los Angeles was 10th (114.0 PPG). Leonard accounted for 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.2 APG.
The Clippers were the better defensive team, listed at fourth in the NBA in points allowed (107.8 PPG). However, Phoenix was not far behind on that end of the court (109.5 PPG).
The Suns closed as 4.5-point home favorites when they played Los Angeles on April 28, but Leonard missed that game. He was active on April 8, where the Clippers were six-point home favorites.
The total has gone ‘under’ in four of the last six head-to-head meetings between these teams. Phoenix has gone ‘over’ in 13 of its last 20 games, while the Clippers have gone ‘over’ in four of their last five.
The pick: Los Angeles +6
I didn’t see enough from Sunday’s game to warrant a two-point line change. If oddsmakers are making the adjustment based on the potential for Paul to return, I disagree with that as well. He has been battling a shoulder injury and has now been sidelined, so I would not expect him to play many minutes if he does return. Los Angeles was leading by two possessions in the third quarter and had a chance to steal Game 1 in the latter stages. George is putting together his best postseason stretch and has enough help to keep the Clippers in touch on Tuesday night, especially with Mann’s recent surge in production. This is a challenging spot for Phoenix from a mental standpoint—can a young team replicate Sunday’s success? I’ll take Los Angeles getting two extra points.