The Los Angeles Clippers prepare to face the Phoenix Suns in Game two of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night. Game one ended in disappointment for the Clippers, who lost 120-114 to the Phoenix Suns, who were without point god Chris Paul. The last thing the Clippers want is for this series to get too far out of reach, but SF Kawhi Leonard out, Los Angeles is in big trouble.
The Suns, on the other hand, have made relatively easy work of their opponents lately. Their first series ended in six games against the Los Angeles Lakers. After that, they closed their series against the Denver Nuggets in four games, sweeping them right out of the playoffs. SG Devin Booker will look to do the same against the Los Angeles Clippers, a team that hasn’t closed a series in under six games.
The Suns have broadened the gap in terms of the points spread, coming in as 5.5-point favorites. In the first game of the series, the Suns were only 4-point favorites, but it’s clear even without Chris Paul who the better team is here. The question now becomes, can the Clippers get a win on the road against the most dominant team in the Western Conference?
LA Clippers, sans Kawhi Leonard, look to Paul George for leadership
The reason Paul George was brought to Los Angeles was to be the help Kawhi Leonard needed in big games. It’s fair to say that George hasn’t really held up his side of the bargain and instead has shown a string of inconsistency. He’s been better throughout this year’s playoffs, but there’s still more he can do in terms of leading the Clippers.
The team has struggled defensively during the playoffs, which is strange considering throughout the season, they were regarded as one of the best. They had no answer for PG Luka Doncic from the Dallas Mavericks in the first series and narrowly escaped with a series win. If the Clippers want a chance at beating the Suns at home, their defense needs to return to elite status.
Without Chris Paul on the court, the Suns are forced to communicate better
While the Clippers have struggled immensely without Kawhi Leonard, the Suns are embracing the silence on the court and are finding new ways to communicate. Normally, Chris Paul is the voice of the team, talking on and off the court to coordinate with his teammates. This silence hasn’t slowed down SG Devin Booker, though, who finished game one with his first triple-double.
The Suns have shown dominance throughout the NBA playoffs and have only lost one game at home throughout the playoffs. With the Clippers losing their most dominant defensive player in Kawhi Leonard, Phoenix can run their offense however they like. Essentially, Devin Booker is daring the Clippers to find a way to stop him.
Two teams down superstars, who’s the best be on Tuesday? Phoenix Suns -5.5
The Suns have been nearly unbeatable at home, and Tuesday night will be no different. Without any way to guard Devin Booker and Phoenix, not needing to worry about Kawhi Leonard gives the Suns a distinct advantage.
Look for the hometown team, the Phoenix Suns, to capture another win at home before heading to LA, Phoenix Suns -5.5.