Game: Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Clippers
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Odds: Suns -3, Clippers +3
The Phoenix Suns have the best record in the NBA at 21-4 and will head to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers for the first time this season. The Suns had their franchise-record 18-game winning streak broken by Golden State on Dec. 3, but they have won two straight since. That includes a 111-90 win over Boston on Friday night.
What’s impressive about the Suns’ last two wins is that they have done it without their leading scorer Devin Booker. He has missed time due to a hamstring injury. Booker, along with Frank Kaminsky and Dario Saric, are out indefinitely according to the latest Phoenix injury report. That report also lists C Deandre Ayton as questionable for tonight’s game.
Regardless, the Suns have been playing great defense which was the big difference in the win over the Celtics. Phoenix held Boston to 37.5 percent shooting from the floor. They were even better defending the three-pointer holding the Celtics to just 4-for-26 shooting from behind the arc. That’s not good news for the Clippers who played over the weekend without their best player, Paul George.
George injured an elbow and did not play in a two-point win over Orlando on Saturday. He is listed as doubtful for tonight’s game. Without George, the Clippers will have issues but an even bigger problem arises if Nic Batum is also out. Batum is also questionable for tonight with an ankle injury. If both George and Batum are out, the Clippers have to find a way to make up 34 points per game.
Beating Phoenix is difficult enough at full strength. The Suns have the fifth-best scoring offense (111.4 ppg) and the fifth-best scoring defense (104.4 ppg) in the NBA. Phoenix can play well on both ends of the floor even without their best player. The Suns probably have the best offensive depth in the league. Seven players average in double figures and Cam Johnson (9.8 ppg) and Jae Crowder (9.5) are close.
Despite going 19-1 straight up in their last 20 games, the Suns have only covered the spread in seven of those games. It’s a similar story for the Clippers who are 15-12 overall. L.A. is 3-7 ATS in its last ten games and just 1-6 ATS in the last seven games at home.
Should Booker and George not play, tonight’s game could be a battle of defenses. The Clippers managed just 106 points in their win over Orlando on Saturday. The Clippers’ defense has been outstanding though. They rank fourth in the NBA in defensive rating. Phoenix actually ranks two spots ahead of the Clippers at No. 2 and the Suns have allowed just 104 points per game over their last three.
The total has gone Under in five of the Suns’ last six games. In the last three Suns-Clippers games, the total has averaged just over 204 per game. What’s intriguing is that the total has gone Under in nine of the Clippers’ last 13 home games played on a Monday.