I’m not sure there’s a more painful way to lose a game than the way the Los Angeles Clippers dropped Game 2 of the Western Conference final. Less than a second away from having their eight-game winning streak snapped, the Phoenix Suns pulled off a 104-103 stunner with DeAndre Ayton soaring above the rim for a bucket and a 2-0 series lead.
I guess you could say the Clippers are in a good spot since they rebounded to win Game 3 and eventually the series in the first two rounds. And since no team has ever comeback to win a series after dropping the first three games, this is a must-win situation for LA.
Game 3 of the Western Conference final takes place on Thursday, June 24, 2021 and will air live on ESPN with tip off at 9 p.m. ET from Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
Phoenix Suns vs LA Clippers Game 3
Spread: Phoenix Suns -1 | Los Angeles Clippers +1 [BET NOW]
Money Line: Phoenix Suns -110 | Los Angeles Clippers -110 [BET NOW]
Total: 218.5 [BET NOW]
Suns So Far
Are they a team of destiny or are the Suns just that good that they can’t be beaten? It could be a little bit of both and that’s a scary scenario for the Clippers. Ayton’s dramatic alley-oop dunk off an inbounds pass with 0.7 seconds remaining lifted Phoenix to its franchise record ninth straight playoff win, though they failed to cover the 4.5-point closing spread for their first ATS loss in that span.
And the Suns were again able to overcome the absence of Chris Paul and a tough shooting night from Devin Booker to seize control of the series. Booker was just 5 of 16 from the field, though he scored 20 points with the help of a perfect 9 of 9 from the free throw line.
Clippers So Far
I don’t think the Clippers are going to be too distraught over the loss. Oh, don’t get me wrong this one stings after coming so close to leveling the series. But the Clips came from behind to beat Dallas and Utah in the first two rounds, so they are confident in their ability to get things straightened out.
It’s never a good strategy to lose the first two games of a seven-game series, though, and eventually that will catch up with them. And there’s a good chance LA won’t have Kawhi Leonard to lean on. While the club hasn’t ruled him out I don’t expect a Wills Reed moment in this series. for those who don’t know what I’m talking about Google Reed and Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals for a history lesson.
With Booker struggling on Tuesday it was Ayton and Cameron Payne hogging the spotlight. Filling in for Paul for the second straight game, Payne scored 29 points with nine assists. “We just had no answer for Cameron Payne. He got downhill all night. His speed and quickness really hurt us,” LA coach Tyronn Lue said. Ayton hit 12 of 15 shots for 24 points with none bigger than the one in the waning moments.
And the Suns may get stronger with the imminent return of Paul. There has been no official word on his status for Game 3, but the Suns are hopeful their point guard can return from the COVID list. That they’ve won two in a row without him says a lot about the makeup of the club. And don’t think going on the road is going to hobble the Suns. They posted the best road record during the regular season and they are 4-0 SU and ATS in their last four away games.
Los Angeles Clippers
Your stars have to be your starts in crunch time. When they aren’t bad things typically happen. Paul George is an exceptional player, but his two missed free throws right before Ayton’s game-winner loomed large in the Game 2 loss. An 85 percent career free throw shooter, George could have guaranteed at least a tie by making both freebies. Instead he gave the Suns a chance to win and they cashed in. It was a rough night overall for George missing his first seven three-point attempts and finishing 1 of 8 for 26 points. He was also just 5 of 10 from the stripe.
Despite the off-night from George the gritty Clippers were still in position to win the game. They played much stronger defensively limiting Booker’s chances and allowing just seven three-pointers, but it was a lost opportunity. “It’s a hard game to swallow because look at this game, we’ve got this game won. But we’ve been in the trenches before. We respond well in the trenches and we will respond well. We always do,” Patrick Beverley said.
Suns vs Clippers Game 3 Predictions
Our picks: Los Angeles Clippers +1 / OVER 218.5
Can the Clippers do it again? They won Game 3 in the first two rounds avoiding a near death sentence so it’s not out of the question. And they probably should have won Game 2. There is very little separation between the teams and the Clips will play with a sense of urgency knowing their season is likely over with another loss.
Check out today’s NBA odds.