Phoenix is officially one win away from their first NBA Finals appearance since 1993. The franchise has never won a title before, but they could be in a prime spot to compete for one this year, especially if they can wrap up the Western Conference Finals in just five games giving them extra rest. Does LA have enough in the tank to slow down the Arizona juggernaut? Let’s find out!
As always, you can shop live odds below to find the best spread for each side of this game. Check out our odds checking tool to shop odds from every game across every sport.
Best Odds for LA Clippers at Phoenix Suns - 6/28/2021
L.A. Clippers at Phoenix – Pick: Phoenix –5.5
The LA Clippers have only allowed 104, 92, and 84 points in their last three games, and it is shocking to say that they have lost two out of these three contests and are down 3-1 in the series. While low-scoring games might not be popular with the TV crowd, both teams have been putting up incredible performances on the defensive end.
In game four, the two teams combined for just 34.3% shooting, including 17.6% from three-point range. While we can certainly expect that to improve to game five, the defensive intensity on display is on another level. The 84 points leading to Phoenix’s game four victory was the fewer points scored by any winning team this entire season, including the playoffs.
Much of the defensive credit has to be given to Suns center DeAndre Ayton, who is coming off another dominant outing. Ayton scored 19 points while grabbing 22 rebounds (a playoff-career-high for him) and blocking four shots in 41 minutes. After game three, Ayton admitted that Clippers center Ivica Zubac got the better of him and it seems like the youngster took it personally, bringing his game to another level.
The Suns used Ayton on the defensive end to help to shrink the floor putting Zubac in difficult positions forcing LA coach Tye Lue to pivot from his game plan that involved using Zubac to free up the pick-and-roll offense.
Ayton currently averages 16.6 points, 11.4 rebounds in 35.6 minutes through his 14 postseason games with a team-high 17.75 PER. He is only giving up 1.1 turnovers per game, which is pretty amazing for a big man with such a high usage rate.
LA Running Out of Bodies
Superstar Kawhi Leonard is still out for the Clippers and him sitting out a do or die game tells us a lot about the nature of his injury, which is likely way more severe than it seemed at first. The Clippers have a long history of playing down the severity of injuries, so we are not surprised by Kawhi missing another game.
The problem for LA is that Paul George played 695 minutes in 17 playoff games so far, 130 minutes more than any other player. George has played 12 playoff games where he was on the floor for more than 40 minutes. The high load surely took a toll on the sharpshooter, as after starting the series shooting 7 of 12 from three-point range, he only made 5 of his last 31 threes covering the past 13 quarters of the series.
The health of Marcus Morris is another major issue for the Clippers. Morris is the third-best player on the team and has only played 21, 25, 24, and 22 minutes so far in the series scoring a total of 25 points in four games on abysmal shooting.
The Clippers starting him instead of the red-hot Terance Mann is a coaching decision that we highly question. LA was outscored by 10 points in the 22 minutes while Morris was on the floor in game four, which is the worst mark on the team by any player.
Midseason acquisition Rajon Rondo was also out of the lineup for game four. It was a coach's decision DNP (did not play), but after Rondo’s terrible performance through the series, especially on the defensive end, we can fully understand it.
Phoenix Closing Out the Series
The biggest issue here is that LA has no one left to go to. Patrick Beverley is doing a great job guarding Devin Booker, but he is not a scorer, George is exhausted, Morris is injured and there only so much Ivica Zubac can do against DeAndre Ayton. Reggie Jackson is the team's second-best offensive player in the series after Paul George and that tells you a lot as Jackson is a 31-year-old journeyman who is barely averaging 10 points through the regular season for LA.
We are going with Phoenix to win game five while covering the spread. This is the third time the Clippers are down by two games in a series, but with the number of injuries and roster dysfunctions, we just don’t see them coming back.
Both Chris Paul and Devin Booker have been playing pretty poorly (to their standards) in the last few games, shooting a combined 25% from the field in game four. If either of them has just an average performance this game shouldn’t even be close. Take the Suns and lay the points!