Clippers vs Suns Prediction (Game 5)
We have reached the nitty-gritty part of the 2021 Western Conference Finals. The Phoenix Suns head back to the home valley with a commanding 3-1 series lead over Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers after winning both games at LA’s famous Staples Center.
The Suns are looking to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993. Game 4’s 84-80 matchup had an absolute slugfest in the 4th quarter with both teams only combining for 29 total points. This barnburner marked the lowest point totals for both of these teams in this postseason by far.
Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker once again led the way for the Suns. Ayton tallied 19 points and grabbed 22 rebounds on the night, while Booker scored 25. The Clippers are definitely kicking themselves after their Game 4 loss, another loss in which they could not capitalize from the free-throw line. The team shot 21/32 from the line, good enough for about 66 percent made. They were not much better from the field, shooting 32.5 percent on 83 shots and 5/31 from the 3 point arc.
Luckily for the Suns, they were slightly better, shooting 36 percent from the field. Can the Suns close it out, or will we be seeing Paul George and the Clippers back home for a Game 6?
Can the Clippers Bounce Back?
Paul George has not been afraid to shoot the ball this series with Kawhi Leonard out, but that fatigue is starting to hit him.
He scored 23 points on Saturday night, but on an abysmal 5/20 shooting performance. His usage rates and minutes have been through the roof since Leonard’s injury, and the wear and tear are seeming to be too much for George to handle.
With George left to shoulder the workload on offense, the Clippers have struggled. Prior to the Leonard injury, the Clippers were averaging 120.8 points per every 100 possessions. That number has dropped significantly to 109.4 points per possession without Kawhi against the Phoenix Suns.
Luckily for them, the Suns have been counteracted by some of the defensive adjustments by Clippers Coach Tyronn Lue. One of those adjustments is the use of Ivica Zubac.
Zubac has been critical in defending the guard play for the Suns when on the floor, holding Booker, Cameron Payne, and Chris Paul to 12/45 shooting when he is contesting or defending either of them.
If the Clippers start to struggle defensively, Lue will definitely look to Zubac to make an impact. Yes, Paul is coming back from Covid, Booker has a broken nose, and Payne is Cameron Payne, but you can’t deny the numbers. Paul George needs to fight through the fatigue and grind out a massive performance if the Clippers are going to keep this series alive.
Suns Need to Close it Out Tonight
If the Suns don’t close it out tonight on their home floor, I’d be a little worried if I was coach Monty Williams heading back to Los Angeles for Game 6. Deandre Ayton has been the key to the Suns success this series, and they need to keep feeding him the ball if they are going to finish off the Clippers. He has dominated the game whenever he is given the chance, however, when the late-game strikes, the Suns turn the offense to their shot-creator, Devin Booker.
While Booker is a great weapon to use in late-game situations, Ayton is the one who has gotten them there for the majority of this series. They need to look to utilize him in crunch time. Chris Paul and Devin Booker have both shots the ball very poorly in their last two games, leading to the Clippers’ blowout in Game 3, and the barn burner in Game 4. Since returning, Paul is 11-41 total from the field, and Booker has fallen off with him shooting a total of 13-43. This has to improve if the Suns want to avoid a Game 6.
Clippers vs Suns Prediction
Throughout these playoffs, the Suns have been determined and motivated to make a name for themselves. The “Suns in 4” mentality struck a nerve in them, and they have dominated the floor since then.
However, I don’t think Los Angeles is quite done fighting. Coach Tyronn Lue, Paul George, and Reggie Jackson are all looking to keep their championship hopes alive, and help the Clippers reach the NBA Finals for the first time in their history.
I think the Clippers keep this one close right down to the wire, led by a big comeback performance by Paul George. He may be known as “Playoff P” or “Pandemic P” but he is going to shake that name for the night, and put out a performance that helps lead the Clippers in a close battle of this potential series deciding Game 5.
Clippers vs Suns Pick: Clippers +5.5 (-110). Odds Via DraftKings Sportsbook.
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