The 2023 NBA Playoffs are officially here with some big moments already in the books. After a bit more than a week of basketball, some series are nearing their end. That is the case for the first-round matchup between the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers. With Phoenix set to host Los Angeles on Tuesday, it means it is time for some Suns Game 5 bold predictions.
Phoenix is having one of the most intriguing seasons in the league. In February, the team traded for 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant. The veteran would end up playing just eight regular-season games with Phoenix after he suffered an injury.
The Suns would finish with a 45-37 record and the No. 4 seed in the West. While they still secured home-court advantage in the first round, they failed to reach the 64-win mark from the previous year.
On the other side of the matchup, the Clippers finished 44-38 and with the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference. This represented a two-win improvement from 2021-22, which was enough to make the organization return to the playoffs.
In Game 1, the Clippers stole home-court advantage with a 115-110 result at the Footprint Center. The Suns then tied the series 1-1 with a 123-109 victory. Phoenix would end up taking a 2-1 series lead with a 129-124 win at the Crypto.com Arena. In Saturday's Game 4, the Suns opened a 3-1 lead after defeating the Clippers 112-100.
Now back in Arizona, Phoenix has the chance to close out the series. With that being said, here are three bold predictions for the Phoenix Suns for Game 5 of their first-round series versus the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.
*Watch NBA games LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*
3. Phoenix Suns force Los Angeles Clippers' Russell Westbrook to 5+ turnovers
Even before the postseason started, the Clippers had already suffered major losses. Paul George has yet to play since late March, meaning Kawhi Leonard would need to step up in the first round.
In the first two games, he did just that. Leonard averaged 34.5 points, 6.5 boards and 6.0 assists with 2.0 steals, the best mark on the team. He made 54.5% of his field goals, 60% of his 3-pointers and 88.2% of his free throws. Unfortunately for the Clippers, the two-time Finals MVP has been out since Game 3 with a knee injury.
Without both Leonard and George, Russell Westbrook has emerged as the main player of the team in the series. Following his poor shooting performance in Game 1, the veteran is scoring 26 points while hitting 46% of his field-goal attempts, 40.9% of his shots beyond the arc and 88.2% of his free throws.
If the Suns want to close out the series on Tuesday, it starts with containing Westbrook. The bold prediction is that Phoenix will force him to five-plus turnovers, which could hurt his impact on the offensive end.
2. Kevin Durant and Devin Booker combine for 60+ points
As for the Suns, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker should be the anchors for the team's offense in Game 5. Both players are coming off big seasons despite missing some time with injuries.
Splitting time with the Nets and Suns, Durant averaged 29.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists. He made history by becoming the first player in the NBA to shoot 55-40-90 in a season.
Booker recorded a career-high 27.8 points, 5.5 assists and 4.5 boards plus 1 steal a contest in the regular season. His shooting splits were 49.4% from the field, 35.1% from long distance and 85.5% from the free-throw line.
In the playoffs, Booker and Durant lead the Suns in scoring with 34.8 and 27.8 points per game, respectively. Both players are hitting more than 50% of their shots and are averaging at least 5.5 assists with 1 steal and 1 block per game.
Should the duo have a big night, the Suns will be in a good position to win the game. The bold prediction is that Durant and Booker will combine for 60-plus points on Tuesday, playing a key role in the final result.
1. Suns close out the series 4-1
At the end of the day, it is difficult to ignore how well both Durant and Booker have been playing in this series. Additionally, with Leonard officially out of Game 5, things should be even tougher for the Clippers.
The Suns are the favorites to win Game 5 and eliminate the Clippers, according to Fan Duel. Currently, the spread is -12.5, one of the largest in the playoffs so far. For comparison, the spread was just -5 for Game 4 and -2.5 for Game 3 before Leonard’s absence was announced.
All things considered, Leonard's absence and Durant and Booker's performances to having fans on their side, the Suns have a big opportunity to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals. The bold prediction is that Phoenix will close out the series 4-1 on Tuesday, giving the team some extra time to recover before starting the next round.