What: Phoenix Suns (32-27) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (32-28)
When: 8:00 p.m. AZ Time
Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona
Watch: Bally Sports AZ, TNT
Listen: 98.7 FM
This is a long-lasting, contentious match-up between two Western Conference elites.
Both teams have compiled contending-level rosters, and both have improved upon the roster foundation they entered this season with, via the trade deadline.
This is the final game before the all-star break, however, because of the looming tie-breaker, with the Suns presently up 2-0 in the season series, and zooming even more in with the Suns presently 0.5 games ahead of them (in 4th presently), it’s safe to same there will be a certain level of value pumped into this one from both existing parties.
The Suns have won 11 of their last 14 games, the Clippers have won nine of their last 13.
Both teams have aspirations set on play that extend well into May and June, and meet at a time where both are close to fully-whole.
· Chris Paul
· Devin Booker
· Josh Okogie
· Torrey Craig
· Deandre Ayton
· Terance Mann
· Paul George
· Kawhi Leonard
· Marcus Morris Sr.
· Ivica Zubac
- Cameron Payne (foot) is OUT
- Landry Shamet (foot) is OUT
- Kevin Durant (knee) is OUT
Norman Powell (knee, injury management) is OUT
What to Watch For
These are two of the league’s most effective defenses in the half-court, with the Suns coming in 7th (half-court defensive rating of 96.0) and the Clippers come in 9th (half-court defensive rating of 96.6).
The Clippers are one of the most physical with their off-ball defensive activity, not unlike what we’ve seen from teams like the Celtics and Grizzlies.
The Suns have been solid, but are always tasked slightly more when it comes to operating against switches. The Clippers have compiled a roster capable of executing any defensive scheme and changing it up on a possession-by-possession basis under the orders of Ty Lue.
They like to top-lock - with physicality - off-ball, as you’ll see below. Forcing actions into secondary and tertiary reads.
They also like to go with “ice” or “down” coverage in pick-and-roll, forcing actions toward the sideline and pinching the action to funnel it toward the baseline.
The Suns pick-and-roll game will be called up to task exclusively, especially the likes of Ayton and Landale.
Both of them have seen successes against this defense in recent matchups, and they’ll need more of the same tonight.
Keys to a Suns Win
Ball security, controlling pace, paint touches, and rebounding will be important tonight.
The Clippers feast off turnovers and struggle in the half-court offensively, so making them take the ball out of the net and play against a set defense more often than not is most optimal.
Also, the Suns will need the bench to show up in this one. The Clippers run most of their offense through Leonard and George, but their bench units have a more unpredictable approach and level of variance in the attack.
The Suns head into the All-Star Break with another win against a western conference elite, and pacific west division rival.
The Paul-Ayton pick-and-roll pops again, Landale also sees successes against the Clippers switching scheme and has some back-and-forth with Plumlee.
The Suns win, 114-108.