The Phoenix Suns are moving into a very uncertain NBA season. Through two games, the Suns have not impressed. They're 1-1, and they could easily be 0-2. They had to rally from a 17-point halftime deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks in their season opener at home last Wednesday. Then they stumbled in Portland on Friday, losing to the Trail Blazers. The Suns' first two games have both been decided by two points, so the Suns' point differential is zero heading into Game 3 of their schedule on Sunday night in Los Angeles against the Clippers. In the loss to the Blazers, Devin Booker scored 33 points and Deandre Ayton scored 26, but the Suns sent the Blazers to the foul line 36 times and were outworked on the offensive glass, 13-9. The Suns have to be able to defend without fouling, and they have to make enough effort plays to supplement their potent offense. Given the stormy offseason for the franchise and the prolonged drama surrounding Ayton, it's not overly dramatic to say that the Suns need a good start to shore up their belief. If they perform poorly in their first 25 to 30 games, it will be reasonable to wonder if this team can pick itself up and return to last season's luminous standard. These first few months of the season are really important for team which needs to tap into last season's unshakable fourth-quarter confidence.
The Los Angeles Clippers have won two road games (one of them was against the Lakers, so let's not get too excited) to start their season. They haven't defeated elite opponents, but they have won games they are supposed to win. It's a solid start for coach Ty Lue, who guided his wounded team to the play-in round last season and now has Kawhi Leonard and Paul George back together again. The Clippers are viewed as a title contender, and they should think of themselves as title contenders. This is one of the most snake-bitten franchises in North American professional sports, let alone the NBA, so the time is now to banish all those demons once and for all, making the team's first-ever NBA Finals. This game against Phoenix won't determine L.A.'s postseason fate, but coming off a late Saturday game in Sacramento, being able to win on the second end of a back-to-back against last season's No. 1 seed in the playoffs would send a notable early statement about the Clippers' competitive chops. Building that kind of identity does matter when we get to April and May.
Here are the Suns-Clippers NBA odds, courtesy of FanDuel
NBA Odds: Suns-Clippers Odds
Phoenix Suns: -1 (-108)
Los Angeles Clippers: +1 (-112)
Over: 219 (-110)
Under: 219 (-110)
Why The Suns Could Cover The Spread
The Clippers are on the second end of a back to back. The Suns had Saturday off. The Suns have not played a complete game yet this season and know they need to elevate their level of play. The Clippers allowed 109 points to the Kings. The Suns can certainly score even more than Sacramento did.
Why The Clippers Could Cover The Spread
It's a new day for the Clippers, whose role players grew and developed last season with Kawhi and PG injured. Now that the stars are back, this is a much more complete team under Ty Lue, who has done a very good coaching job and has a more cohesive situation than what the Suns have, given Deandre Ayton's displeasure with his surroundings in Phoenix this past offseason.
Final Suns-Clippers Prediction & Pick
This is basically a pick 'em game. The Suns do not look convincing. The Clippers have a lot to prove, but the Suns do not have the look of a team which is ready to perform at its very best, unlike last season.
Final Suns-Clippers Prediction & Pick: Clippers +1