The Los Angeles Clippers are not making things easy for the Phoenix Suns, as they should because nothing is given in the playoffs. But will they be able to hang on for at least one more game by forcing a Game 7? Or, will the Suns book their tickets to the 2021 NBA Finals this Thursday?
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HOME TEAM: Los Angeles Clippers (2-3, 1-1 at home)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Patrick Beverley
- SG: Reggie Jackson
- SF: Terance Mann
- PF: Paul George
- C: Marcus Morris Sr.
Don’t let Twitter tell you what to think about Paul George because he’s been sensational in the playoffs, especially in the series against the Suns — notwithstanding the lowlights that trolls would rather focus on.
George delivered the goods for the Clippers in Game 5, putting his team on his shoulders and scoring 41 points on 15-of-20 shooting, while also grabbing 13 rebounds. Without Kawhi Leonard, the obvious key for the Clippers is to get PG13 going, which he has been doing in this series by averaging 30.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 6.2 assists.
But it can’t be just all George, so it’s nice to see the supporting players stepping up as well. Take for example Reggie Jackson knocking deep balls just like his namesake. Mr. June is averaging 21.8 points in the series while shooting 37.2% from behind the arc.
It’s also important to monitor Ivica Zubac’s status after he missed Game 5 with an MCL sprain. If Zubac sits out Game 6, the Clippers could use another Marcus Morris Sr. explosion. Morris had 22 points in Game 5 on 9-of-16 shooting. The Clippers are 8-0 in this postseason when he shoots at least 50%.
They are also 5-1 ATS in their last six home games.
ROAD TEAM: Phoenix Suns (3-2, 1-1 on the road)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Chris Paul
- SG: Devin Booker
- SF: Mikal Bridges
- PF: Jae Crowder
- C: Deandre Ayton
The good thing for the Suns is that they still are ahead of the series. But they just can’t allow the Clippers from gaining early momentum in Game 6. Phoenix should be the one coming out like a house on fire and back Los Angeles to a corner.
Perhaps the Suns should increase the touches of Deandre Ayton against the Clippers’ creaking frontcourt. Ayton scored just 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting in Game 5, while Chris Paul and Devin Booker unloaded a total of 41 shots combined while making just 17. Paul and Booker will always get their shots whatever happens, but there’s a clear incentive for Phoenix to attack the basket via their big man.
No one has really figured Ayton out in this playoffs, wherein he’s averaging 16.2 points on 70 FG%. Across five games against the Suns, the former Arizona Wildcats star is putting up 13.0 points on 67.7 FG%. It’s also high time for Mikal Bridges to wake up, as he’s scored just six points or fewer in three of the last four games.
The Suns are 5-1 ATS in their last six road games.
The Clippers should be commended for stretching the series this long without the help of Kawhi Leonard, but Marcus Morris isn’t going to play like an All-Star again in Game 6. The Suns win and cover (-1) Thursday.
The Clippers won’t have a hot start again, with Phoenix making sure to control the game early and have it play out according to their preferred pace. Take the Under (215.0).