A heavyweight Pacific division matchup is on tap this Thursday as the Phoenix Suns host the Los Angeles Clippers in The Valley. Will the Suns overcome LA even without their best player? Or, will the Clippers steal a win in the desert?
Catch this game live on Thursday, January 4, 2024 at 10 AM, Manila time
Away: Los Angeles Clippers (20-12/6-8 Away)
Projected Starting Five:
- James Harden
- Terance Mann
- Paul George
- Kawhi Leonard
- Ivica Zubac
With Kawhi Leonard back in the lineup, the Clippers are back to their top form. The Miami Heat tasted the wrath of a healthy Clips squad last Tuesday when it got smothered by Los Angeles in La La Land, 121-104. Leonard, who was absent for four consecutive games due to a hip issue before LA’s crushing of the Heat, led the Clippers with 24 points on 10/19 shooting from the floor.
The Clippers shot an incredible 58.8 percent from the floor in that contest, a testament to just how difficult it is for opposing teams to contain the star-studded LA squad. The Clippers are deadly from the perimeter, as they’re seventh in the league with a 45.4 midrange FG% and fifth with a 38 3 FG%. They are also fifth with a 56 eFG%. Then there’s their suffocating defense that can be expected to make life difficult for a Suns team that will roll into Thursday’s game without Kevin Durant. The Clippers are allowing just 111.9 points per game and holding opponents to only 52.8eFG%.
Home: Phoenix Suns (17-15/9-9 Home)
Projected Starting Five:
- Devin Booker
- Bradley Beal
- Grayson Allen
- Chimezie Metu
- Jusuf Nurkic
The Suns will be entering Thursday’s meeting with the Clippers with considerable momentum, having won all of their last four outings. That includes their 109-88 demolition of the lowly Portland Trail Blazers at home last Tuesday, and they did that despite missing the services of Kevin Durant due to hamstring tightness. Playing the Blazers without KD is not the same as playing a team like the players sans the future Hall of Famer.
However, the Suns still have healthy stars in Devin Booker and Bradley Beal. Booker struggled in the Portland game with just 10 points on 4/16 shooting. He could be due for a big bounce-back performance. Beal, meanwhile, had 21 points on 8/16 shooting versus the Blazers. The Suns have yet to reach their true potential on the court in large part because of injuries, but they’re picking up steam and shooting well as a team lately. In fact, they have posted a 51.9 FG% and 40.6 3FG% in their last five outings.
Spread: The Suns (+3) cover the spread.
Over/Under: The total (233.5) hits the Under.