Game: Los Angeles Clippers @ Phoenix Suns
Time: 10:00 p.m.
Odds: Clippers +7.5, Suns -7.5
In the first game of the series, Kawhi Leonard displayed his elite playoff form, and the Los Angeles Clippers proved they are a serious threat to advance past the Phoenix Suns. Leonard played in his first playoff game in 22 months on Sunday, a 115-110 win over the Utah Jazz. In June 2021, he tore the ACL in his right knee. The underdog Clippers gave Phoenix a serious first-round scare, getting 38 points from Leonard on 13-of-24 shooting from the field. Los Angeles will try and do it again tonight in Game 2 in Phoenix tonight.
Kevin Durant, who was participating in his first playoff game with the Suns, was overshadowed by Leonard. Durant was acquired from Brooklyn at the trade deadline to help Phoenix win its first NBA title.
Phoenix suffered its first loss in Durant’s nine games on the court as he finished with 27 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds. Leonard, who also had five rebounds and five assists, outperformed him significantly.
Russell Westbrook gave the Clippers a strong performance in the opening game of the series despite only scoring nine points on 3-of-19 shooting. As the Clippers held onto a late three-point lead, Westbrook added 11 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks, two steals, and the game-winning play.
With 10.1 seconds left, Suns star Devin Booker was driving to the basket when Westbrook blocked the shot, leaped to grab the ball, slammed it off Booker’s left leg, and sent it out of bounds, giving Los Angeles possession. With 7.9 seconds left, Eric Gordon made two free throws to end the game.
Phoenix struggled right away and trailed by 16 at the start of the second quarter. The Clippers were the more skillful team down the stretch, despite the Suns eventually taking the lead with a 15-0 run in the third quarter.
Booker knows it won’t be easy beating the Clippers. Booker led the Suns with 26 points in Game 1.
Torrey Craig put forth a strong performance for Phoenix, scoring 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Chris Paul only scored seven points but grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out 10 assists.
Gordon had a strong scoring game for the Clippers with 19 points. With Paul George (knee) out and possibly not recovering in time to play in the series, he is expected to pick up the slack. The Clippers are 6-2 SU since George has been out of the lineup. LA has been putting up big numbers on offense averaging 121.8 points per game in the eight games that George has missed.
Not surprisingly, the Over has cashed in eight of the last ten games for the Clippers. The Over has also hit in eight of the Clippers’ last 12 on the road. The total has gone Over in 14 of Phoenix’s last 20 games. The Clippers are one of the more profitable road Over teams with a 26-16 O/U mark on the road.
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