Where: Staples Center (Los Angeles)
Time: 8:30 PM (local)
TV: Fox Sports Net Arizona
Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7FM / KSUN 1400AM (ES)
After decades of irrelevance, the Clippers have been one of the NBA’s quietest, yet most consistent contenders throughout whatever this decade is called (the ‘10s?). Despite limited playoff success, they’ve racked up four consecutive 53+ win seasons and played an up-tempo brand of basketball that should look familiar to Suns fans, only with more defense tossed in.
But right now the Clippers must be starting to panic. With Blake Griffin out until February and Chris Paul having missed 5 of the last 6, LA has dropped six straight. They lost their last two games to Houston and Oklahoma City by a combined 50 points. And now that their record is 22-14, good for only the 7th seed in the Western Conference, their 50-win streak is starting to look like it might be in jeopardy.
Even though the Clippers have the privilege of playing the young Suns at home tonight, they’ll need to look for offense through the unusual suspects. Sharpshooter J.J. Redick, who is battling a hamstring injury himself, is averaging 15 points per game over his last eight outings.
Then you have other players like the streaky Jamal Crawford, a player whose style resembles none other than the Suns’ own Brandon Knight. Crawford was phenomenal for a three-game stretch against the Mavericks, Lakers and Nuggets, posting three straight 20+ point games while shooting 50 percent from the field. But his last three games have been disastrous, as he’s scored just 12 points in 90 minutes on 5-of-29 shooting.
DeAndre Jordan will give the Suns problems on the boards and get his fair share of lobs and putbacks. But to really stop the depleted Clippers’ offense means holding J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers in check.
Team Leaders (not including Paul/Griffin)
Points: J.J. Redick (14.9)
Rebounds: DeAndre Jordan (13.1)
Assists: Jamal Crawford (2.5)
Not much new to report here. T.J. Warren is back in the starting lineup and is hoping to rebound from a rough performance against the Jazz. The Suns in their last game were plagued by the same offensive issues they’ve always had, as they strung together a total of nine assists (with eight coming from Bledsoe). The last time the Suns totaled nine assists or fewer in a game was back in 1982, when guys like Truck Robinson and Walter Davis were running the show.
Points: Eric Bledsoe (19.9)
Rebounds: Tyson Chandler (11.3)
Assists: Eric Bledsoe (5.6)
Clippers: Chris Paul (OUT), Blake Griffin (OUT), Wesley Johnson (Questionable)
This is a game where we’re going to see the Clippers play a lot like the Suns. When your leading assist man after Chris Paul is Jamal Crawford averaging 2.5 a game, you can expect a lot of one-on-one ball. Jordan will cause problems, and the Suns are a bad team on the road, but I’m going to bet on Bledsoe/Booker/Knight doing a lot better than Crawford/Redick/Rivers.
Suns Win, 108-104