The Phoenix Suns are set to take on the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Finals, starting Sunday with Game 1 out in the desert. In this 2021 NBA Playoffs odds post, we’ll take a look at the Clippers-Suns series odds, schedule, make a prediction and more.
The second-seeded Suns have been waiting around for a while after sweeping away the Denver Nuggets in the second round, but Chris Paul tested positive for COVID-19 during that time and will miss the start of the series. The Clippers won four straight games against the Utah Jazz after losing the first two, but Kawhi Leonard could miss the entire series with an ACL injury.
So, both teams are down key stars as the Western Conference Finals get underway.
Clippers-Suns Series Odds (Updated 6/29)
Los Angeles Clippers (+410)
Phoenix Suns (-550)
Clippers-Suns Series Schedule
Game 1: LAC 114-120 PHX
Game 2: LAC 103-104 PHX
Game 3: PHX 92-106 LAC
Game 4: PHX 84-80 LAC
Game 5: LAC 116-102 PHX
Game 6: PHX 130-103 LAC
No. 2 Phoenix Suns
The Suns have been rolling since Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis went down with an injury in the first round. Phoenix dominated the Lakers three games in a row to win that series and then annihilated the shorthanded Denver Nuggets in the second round to reach the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2010.
However, CP3’s COVID-19 diagnosis casts a pall over the Suns as they start this series. It’s unclear how long he’ll be out, and missing Paul is obviously a major blow given how well he has been playing at 36 years old. Phoenix’s starting lineup has been dominant in these playoffs, so this throws off their rhythm. Cameron Payne will need to step up like he did in the first round when Paul hurt his shoulder.
Devin Booker will also be asked to carry an even bigger load for however long Paul is out. Booker has been magnificent in his first playoffs, averaging 27.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists while shooting 48.7% from the field and 37.7% from 3-point range.
Then there’s Deandre Ayton, who will be crucial in this series. Will Ayton succeed where Rudy Gobert failed when it comes to punishing small Clippers lineups? Ayton is a more formidable offensive force, so he’ll look to take advantage of his size against LA.
The Suns will rely on their raucous home-court advantage to start this series without Paul. The Clippers got off to slow starts in their prior two series, so we’ll see if that holds true again, but Phoenix could have that rust factor in play.
No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers
Instead of folding up shop when things get tough, the Clippers have shown impressive resiliency in these playoffs. Remember, they were down 19 points in Game 3 in Dallas after losing the first two games of the series at home but still came back to win that game and the series in seven. Then, they handled the Jazz four straight times, even with Kawhi Leonard missing the last two games. Key big man Serge Ibaka barely played in the playoffs before undergoing back surgery.
Paul George exorcised some of his playoff demons with his play against the Jazz, putting forth a monster performance without Leonard in Game 5 and then another solid effort in Game 6. PG-13 vs. Devin Booker will be a big-time matchup to watch in this series.
George got help from some unlikely sources in Game 6, with Terance Mann going for 39 points and Reggie Jackson completely taking over the second half with 22 points and 10 assists. The Clippers can’t rely on those kinds of performances against the Suns, but they have guys ready to step up with Leonard out. Jackson’s outstanding play in particular has been a revelation, giving the Clippers a strong option at point guard.
LA’s small-ball looks are deadly. They put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses and create a ton of wide-open looks. The Suns have been elite defensively in the playoffs and can play big or small effectively, so these will be fascinating matchups to watch. We’ll also see if Ivica Zubac gets more minutes against Ayton.
And, of course, just like the CP3 situation, Kawhi’s status hangs over the Clippers. He’s definitely out Game 1 and is almost certainly out for Game 2 as well. His status for the remainder of the series is unclear, but the current assumption is he’ll miss most or all of it.
Clippers-Suns Series Prediction and Pick
The unclear statuses of Paul and Leonard throw a wrench into this series. Both of these teams are very talented sans the two stars, but missing them is unfortunate. The Suns had been lucky health-wise in the postseason before this setback, though they also deserve a ton of credit for taking care of business and will look to continue their strong two-way play, even without CP3 for the time being. The Clippers also deserve a lot of credit for their own resiliency, and this should be a battle.
The current guess is Paul has a better chance of playing in this series than Leonard. Because of that and the home-court advantage, I’m going with the Suns to win a long series.
Clippers-Suns Series Winner: Phoenix Suns (-198)