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Game Preview: Suns face potential first-round opponent, Clippers, in regular season finale

The teams could meet again next week

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns (45-36) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (43-38)

When: 12:30 p.m. AZ time

Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona

Watch: Bally Sports AZ

Listen: 98.7 FM

DraftKings Betting Lines: Clippers (-12.5)

The Suns face the Clippers in the final game of the regular season Sunday afternoon. The game will be televised by Bally Sports Arizona.

Phoenix will be without four starters (guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul, forward Kevin Durant and center Deandre Ayton) in Sunday’s game. Those players also missed the team’s 121-107 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers Friday.

The terms are simple: If the Clippers win this game, they will be the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and face the Suns, the No. 4 seed, in the first round of the playoffs.

If the Clippers lose, the Golden State Warriors can take the No. 5 seed so long as they beat the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday. If both the Clippers and Warriors lose, things could get complicated.

Our Dave King broke down the remaining playoff scenarios for the Western Conference here.

The Suns are heavy underdogs by point spread and will be without seven primary rotation players, a list that also includes guard Cam Payne (back), center Bismack Biyombo (right knee) and forward T.J. Warren (illness).

However, the team’s put up a great fight against the Lakers Friday and will likely play with high energy Sunday.

Here are some of the notable statistics for each team provided by TeamRankings.

  • Points per game: Phoenix (No. 17, 113.6), Los Angeles (No. 21, 113.2)
  • Assists per game: Phoenix (No. 4, 27.2), Los Angeles (No. 24, 23.8)
  • Rebounds per game: Phoenix (No. 8, 52.6), Los Angeles (No. 15, 51.2)
  • Average scoring margin: Phoenix (No. 9, +2.2), Los Angeles (No. 19, +0.3)
  • Offensive efficiency: Phoenix (No. 18), Los Angeles (No. 16)
  • Team shooting percentage: Phoenix (No. 23, 46.8), Los Angeles (No. 13, 47.7)
  • Effective field goal percentage: Phoenix (No. 22, 53.6), Los Angeles (No. 12, 55.1)
  • 3-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 7, 37.7), Los Angeles (No. 3, 38.3)
  • 2-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 29, 52.1), Los Angeles (No. 23, 53.7)
  • Free throw percentage: Phoenix (No. 9, 79.4), Los Angeles (No. 18, 78.1)
  • Blocks per game: Phoenix (No. 5, 5.3), Los Angeles (No. 21, 4.4)
  • Steals per game: Phoenix (No. 14, 7.2), Los Angeles (No. 16, 7.1)
  • Turnovers per game: Phoenix (No. 11, 13.6), Los Angeles (No. 18, 14.3)
  • Opponent points per game: Phoenix (No. 6, 111.5), Los Angeles (No. 12, 112.9)
  • Opponent shooting percentage: Phoenix (No. 6, 46.5), Los Angeles (No. 16, 47.4)
  • Opponent effective field-goal percentage: Phoenix (No. 5, 53.2), Los Angeles (No. 14, 54.2)
  • Opponent average scoring margin: Phoenix (No. 9, -2.2), Los Angeles (No. 19, -0.3)
  • Defensive efficiency: Phoenix (No. 6), Los Angeles (No. 18)
  • Opponent 3-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 13, 35.8), Los Angeles (No. 18, 36.4)
  • Opponent 2-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 5, 53.0), Los Angeles (No. 12, 54.0)
  • Opponent total rebounds per game: Phoenix (No. 14, 51.1), Los Angeles (No. 10, 50.4)

Likely Starting Lineups

Phoenix Suns

  • G Damion Lee OR G Saben Lee OR G Terrence Ross
  • G Landry Shamet
  • G/F Josh Okogie
  • F Torrey Craig
  • C Jock Landale

Los Angeles Clippers

  • G Russell Westbrook
  • G Eric Gordon
  • F Kawhi Leonard
  • F Nicolas Batum
  • C Ivica Zubac



  • G Devin Booker (rest) is OUT
  • F Kevin Durant (left ankle injury management) is OUT
  • G Chris Paul (rest) is OUT
  • C Deandre Ayton (rest) is OUT
  • C Bismack Biyombo (suffered right knee injury against Lakers Friday) is OUT
  • G Cam Payne (suffered back injury against Lakers) is OUT
  • F T.J. Warren (illness, missed previous two games) is OUT

Los Angeles:

  • F Paul George (knee) is OUT
  • F Marcus Morris (back) is ?

Uniform Matchup

Courtesy of

What to Watch For

This is a preview of potential playoff opponents. Suns fans will get to see the Clippers in action and could see them return to Footprint Center next week for the start of the first round.

Los Angeles has had championship expectations the last few seasons but has not met them. The Clippers signed Leonard in free agency after he won the NBA championship in 2019 with the Toronto Raptors and traded for George, whose return is uncertain due to a current knee injury.

Los Angeles lost a 3-1 lead in the 2020 Western Conference semifinals in the NBA Bubble before it advanced to the 2021 Western Conference Finals against the Suns. The Clippers were without Leonard in the series after he tore his ACL in the second round.

Los Angeles did not make the postseason last year as Leonard sat out the entire season with an ACL injury and George got hurt at the end of the regular season.

The Clippers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers Saturday night and will secure the No. 5 seed if they beat the Suns. Los Angeles coach Ty Lue said his team will not rest any players for the game.

Phoenix fans won’t get to see the team’s best players, but it should be an entertaining game Sunday. The Suns have overcome plenty of injuries and have been resilient all season, so expect a good effort from the team’s bench in the home finale.

All-Time Meetings and Fun Fact

The Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers are Pacific Division rivals, so they face each other four times in the regular season.

The Suns and Clippers have played 234 times dating back to the 1970-71 season, shortly after Phoenix was founded in 1968-69 and Los Angeles was then known as the Buffalo Braves. The franchise became the San Diego Clippers prior to the 1978-79 season and moved to Los Angeles before the 1984-85 campaign.

The Suns have a sizable lead in the all-time series, 137 to 97. The teams have split the last 10 meetings and Phoenix has won two of three games between the teams this season.

Keys to a Suns Win

Phoenix will be severely undermanned against the Clippers, so do not be surprised if it is a game that Los Angeles controls especially considering postseason positioning.

Payne and Biyombo each were hurt against the Lakers Friday, so the Suns could see backup guard Damion Lee and certainly center Jock Landale in the starting lineup.

If Lee starts, the Suns will have three players (him, Shamet and Craig) who shoot above 37 percent from 3-point range. The Clippers rank in the bottom half of the NBA in 3-point percentage defense, so the Suns might have a chance to get hot from distance.

The Clippers will be a hungry team like the Lakers, who are also fighting for postseason positioning in the last game of the regular season, Friday. Leonard does not seem to be mentioned as much with top players in the NBA today – perhaps due to his knee injury in 2021 and the Clippers’ inability to capitalize on high expectations – but is still very productive. Los Angeles’ top player is averaging 32.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in three games this month.

Okogie will likely guard Leonard, who tends to use angles and great balance to create his own offense. Okogie is best at frustrating players, but it is very difficult to do that against Leonard, one of the most poised players in the NBA.

The Clippers also have a double-double threat, Zubac, who must be contained. Los Angeles can go 10-deep with its rotation, which will be a big advantage over Phoenix since it does not have its top four players.

The Suns will have to rely on defense and effort to stay in this game like they did Friday. Los Angeles will need a win to stay at No. 5 while Phoenix has nothing to lose with its playoff spot secure. That should allow the Suns to play loose, which they will need to do in order to have any shot to pull off an upset.


This seems like an easy one. Los Angeles is at full strength while Phoenix is waiting for the playoffs.

The Suns and Clippers are very likely to play each other again soon. Let’s be safe and say that will happen.

Clippers 109, Suns 83

When the game is over, join the Suns JAM Session Podcast as we discuss the game live on YouTube.

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