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Game Preview: Phoenix Suns look to beat the odds against motivated Los Angeles Clippers

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Despite a few additions, these are still the same Clippers that you have come to know and hate. And the Phoenix Suns will have their hands full trying to prevent an eighth consecutive loss to them.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

Start Time: 8:30PM AZ Time, 7:30PM PST

TV: Fox Sports Arizona, NBA League Pass

Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM

Tonight's Opponent

The Los Angeles Clippers.  After years of not really caring, why do we hate this team so much?  It's probably because the Clippers recent ascendancy coincides with Phoenix's slide to mediocrity and beyond.   In 2012-13, the Clips notched their first 50-win season in franchise history.  Meanwhile, the Suns barely managed to win half that on the way to the second worst record in franchise history.  Since then, the "other" Los Angeles team has become the premiere Los Angeles team while the Suns, once the only game in town, have struggled for relevance in their own city.

Yeah, that'll do it.

Despite a few additions, these are still the same Clippers that you have come to know and hate.  Chris Paul is still doing Chris Paul things.  DeAndre Jordan, despite Mark Cuban's efforts, is still doing DeAndre Jordan things.  And Blake Griffin just keeps getting better at the game of basketball.  Through 3 games, the punchable one has been utterly unstoppable, averaging 32 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal per game.  On 64.4% shooting.  That is not a typo.  And J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford are in there somewhere, too.

New faces include a thus far very underwhelming Lance Stephenson, an effective Paul Pierce, a smiling Wes Johnson and a woefully inefficient Josh Smith.  And some kid named Austin Rivers who may or may not have a passing resemblance to their head coach.

Adding to the hateability quotient, the Clippers have beaten the Suns in 7 consecutive meetings, including the cherry on top off last season's disappointment sundae, a 112-101 defeat at US Airways Center.  Unfortunately, there's little reason to think that streak ends tonight.  The Clippers come into the new season with a giant chip on their shoulder courtesy of an embarrassing second round exit to the Houston Rockets in last year's playoffs.  After holding a 3-1 lead, the Rockets came back to win the final 3 games to send LA packing.

The Matchups

The bad news is that Blake Griffin is probably going to eat Markieff Morris' lunch and dinner then spend the night and eat his breakfast too.  The good news is the rest of the starting line-ups match up pretty well.  But Kieff will be on an island against Blake while Tyson Chandler contends with DeAndre Jordan at both ends of the floor.  I expect Eric Bledsoe and Chris Paul to play each other to a draw, but Brandon Knight has an opportunity to use his quickness to exploit J.J. Redick.

Anytime DeAndre Jordan sits, Phoenix needs to start feeding their big men, regardless of whether Tyson Chandler or Alex Len are in the game.  Either of them should be able to do some damage against an undersized second unit, unless Doc Rivers decides to give Cole Aldrich more minutes beyond the garbage time duty he's seen so far this season.  The rest of the second unit features intriguing veteran/youngster matchups, especially T.J. Warren vs. Paul Pierce.

Prediction

Ultimately, until these Suns show us more, this is the Clippers' game to lose.  I'm going to guess it's something along the lines of 101-96 Clippers victory.  Please tell me why I'm wrong in the comments!

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