The Western Conference Finals continue on Tuesday with Game 2 between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns. The Suns drew first blood with a huge Game 1 win on Sunday to take a 1-0 series lead. Any win without Chris Paul is a big one for the Suns in this series and getting some increased margin for error with the first win was huge.
The Clippers will look to rebound from that Game 1 loss with a better effort in Game 2, but it was pretty interesting to see the Suns lined at -6 with a total of 224 from BetOnline Sportsbook at the open. Game 1 fell 120-114 and Phoenix outscored the Clippers by six in the final quarter to get the win. That line actually closed -4 and 220, so adjustments have been made for Game 2. Adjustments have been made by bettors as well, as this line is down to -5.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers took a little bit of money in Game 1 as the line dropped down from -5 to -4. It was a valiant effort from the Clippers, who once again had a big statement coming out of the locker room after halftime, with a 39-point third quarter. Unfortunately for them, the tide turned in the fourth, as the Clippers shot just 35% from the floor and went 4-of-14 on three-point shots.
After “The Terance Mann” game to close out the series against the Jazz, Mann was held to just nine points on 3-of-4 shooting. Reggie Jackson and Paul George combined to take 45 of the 88 shots from the floor. George was 10-of-26 and had 34 points on the strength of seven three-pointers. Jackson had 24 points, but did have five of Los Angeles’s nine turnovers.
While George shot 47% from beyond the arc, you have to think that the Suns are just fine with forcing him outside to take long jumpers. George did shoot 41% on those during the regular season, but is shooting 37.5% in the playoffs. He has only averaged eight three-point attempts per game in the playoffs and that includes the 15 that he fired up in Game 1.
The Clippers got virtually no bench contributions in that game. DeMarcus Cousins had 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting as Tyronn Lue experimented in Game 1 to find a lineup that worked. The Clippers were at their best playing small ball against the Suns, as even Marcus Morris struggled, going 3-of-11 from the floor.
Los Angeles will have to find a way to penetrate the Phoenix defense and get some higher-percentage shot chances and also get to the free throw line more.
The Suns needed a huge game from Devin Booker and they got it. Booker had 40 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists as he continued to make smart decisions with the basketball and make all of his teammates better. Booker did take 29 shots, but every starter for the Suns took at least 10 and every starter shot at least 50% from the floor. It was a max effort with six guys in double figures and with contributions from virtually everybody.
Cameron Payne even had nine assists and chipped in 11 points. He was a huge part of the Lakers series, but didn’t play nearly as big of a role with Chris Paul back against Denver. He stepped up in a big way when he was needed in Game 1 and now he and the rest of the offensive players have developed some confidence in playing without Paul.
The Suns got a lot of open looks by sharing the basketball and shot 55% from the floor. Phoenix had 31 assists on 49 made shots and only turned the ball over seven times. Deandre Ayton was very helpful down low in the block on offense. He’s been a very efficient scorer for the Suns in the playoffs.
On the other hand, the Suns shot 55% from the floor and needed to win the fourth quarter just to win the game. Both teams tightened up a little bit in the fourth quarter, but the Suns didn’t turn the ball over and the Clippers had three costly turnovers. The Suns buckled down defensively and 14 of the 23 field goal attempts for the Clippers were threes. On the flip side, nine of 24 came from beyond the arc for the Suns.
Clippers vs. Suns Free Pick
This feels like a little bit of a big line for Game 2. Bad shot selection and a lack of fourth quarter patience and ball movement hurt the Clippers in the first game. Phoenix got a lot of clean looks and knocked them down. Ty Lue was praised for the adjustments he made in the series against the Jazz. He’ll have to make some again here, but the Clippers keep having strong third quarters, so he’s doing something right there. The Suns are playing some outstanding, unselfish basketball right now, but they played a really strong Game 1 and only won by six.
Pick: Los Angeles Clippers +5