It’s an all too familiar script for the Los Angeles Clippers and we now have a series. For the third straight playoff round the Clips won Game 3 after dropping the first two. They turned in a fine defensive effort on Thursday holding the Phoenix Suns to a playoff-low point total in the 106-92 victory. After Game 2 of these playoffs the Clippers have been darn good. They improved to 9-1 SU and ATS in that scenario and can level the Western Conference final when the clubs meet for Game 4 on Saturday night.
Game 4 of the Western Conference final takes place on Saturday, June 26, 2021 and will air live on ESPN with tip off at 9 p.m. ET from Staples Center.
Phoenix Suns vs Los Angeles Clippers Game 4 Odds
Spread: Phoenix Suns -1 | Los Angeles Clippers +1 [BET NOW]
Money Line: Phoenix Suns -110 | Los Angeles Clippers -110 [BET NOW]
Total: 220 [BET NOW]
Season to Date
Maybe the Suns should have left Chris Paul on the sideline. After winning the first two games without their veteran leader, Paul returned after being sequestered in the COVID protocol. He was rusty hitting just 5 of 19 shots and the Suns had their worst offensive performance of the postseason. They shot better than 50 percent from the field in the first two games but were held to 38.9 percent shooting on Thursday night.
As a result the Suns had their franchise record nine-game postseason winning streak snapped falling to 10-3 SU and 9-4 ATS this postseason. The Suns were impacted by the loss of Cameron Payne to an ankle injury. Filling in for Paul the first two games, Payne totaled 40 points with a career-best 29 in Game 2. He also dished out nine assists in each game.
It’s the same book with a different chapter for the Clippers. Rallying from an 0-2 deficit in the first two rounds only made the Clippers more confident heading into Thursday’s contest. Whatever the reason, the Clips just play better basketball when their backs are against the wall.
This could have been a major letdown spot after their brutal loss in Game 2. But they showed in that game that they can ramp up the defensive pressure. And that’s what sparked them on Thursday; that and not having to defend Payne. LA was pretty good on that end of the floor during the regular season and the pressure disrupted Devin Booker, who was held to just 15 points.
The series took a big swing on Thursday and the Suns will have to play following a loss for the first time since the first round. They bounced back after falling behind the Lakers then swept the Nuggets in the quarterfinals. We should see a more active Chris Paul on Saturday now that he has a game under his belt. Monty Williams would have liked to limit Paul’s minutes but he couldn’t when Payne was hurt. Paul was forced to play nearly 40 minutes and he looked fatigued.
When the backcourt struggles to score the basketball the Suns suffer. Paul and Devin Booker were a combined 10 of 40 from the field and 3 of 14 from behind the arc on Thursday. That’s a major reason why the Suns scored only 92 points. Overall they shot 38.9 percent from the field. Booker donned a mask to protect his broken nose, but the team’s leading scorer struggled again over the last two games he’s shooting 27 percent from the field.
Los Angeles Clippers
Turning to their defense to get back in the series, the Clippers were masterful with their pressure. And Paul George also got redemption following his missed free throws in Game 2 that allowed the Suns to win the game on DeAndre Ayton’s alley-oop dunk with less than a second to play. It wasn’t vintage George, but it was good enough. And hitting shots at key moments was huge. George scored 27 points on 9 of 26 shooting and he also contributed in other areas with 15 rebounds and eight assists.
And as they’ve done in the absence of Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers got big games from others on the roster. Reggie Jackson scored 23 points knocking down a crucial three-pointer in the fourth quarter to squelch a Phoenix rally. And Ivica Zubac was motivated by his defensive gaffe on Ayton in Game 2 providing some relief. Zubac scored 15 points and hauled down 16 rebounds.
Suns vs Clippers Game 4 Prediction
Our picks: Los Angeles Clippers +1 and UNDER 220
The Clips will need to keep their intensity at a high level since Paul and Booker likely won’t be as bad as they were in Game 3. Paul was playing his first game since exiting the COVID protocol and Booker played with a broken nose sustained in Game 2. With those guys feeling better and Ayton continuing to own the block, the Suns won’t be blown out by 14 points. But I like the Clips and how they responded in Game 2. And given the way they responded in the playoffs, I like an even series when this game ends.
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