Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers Betting Predictions

Suns vs Clippers NBA
Phoenix vs. Los Angeles, NBA Betting Predictions, January 3

It’s a battle of the Western Conference’s top-two teams as the first-place Phoenix Suns host the Los Angeles Clippers, who occupy second place, on Sunday. The Suns are seen by many as a passing fad, but Phoenix has been playing well since last season resumed in July when it won all eight games in the NBA bubble.

Suns vs. Clippers Betting Odds

No team has benefitted from the pandemic break in March more than the Phoenix Suns. Since the NBA resumed its 2019-20 season in July in the Orlando bubble, the Suns have won 13 of their 14 games, including all eight in the bubble, and are off to a 5-1 start to this season. Sunday might be their stiffest test of the new season however as Phoenix welcomes the Los Angeles Clippers for a battle of the top-two teams in the Western Conference.

So many experts and fans are overlooking the Suns, who are not the mirage many assume them to be this year. The addition of Chris Paul in an offseason trade with Oklahoma City is paying big dividends as he is averaging almost nine assists and a little more than 13 points per game in the first six games. It is easy to underestimate the power a veteran point guard like Paul has on a young team, but the Suns are showing the benefits early this season,

Paul is an excellent foil for Devin Booker, who is picking up where he left off in Orlando with 20.5 points per game, leading the six players averaging double figures in Phoenix. But the young talent around him is maturing, which is important. DeAndre Ayton has grown into his own this season as well with 12 points and 11 rebounds per game thus far. Cameron Johnson is coming off the bench and dropping 13.5 points per game while Mikal Bridges is up to 15.3 points per game for the Suns. That’s five more points per game from those two guards alone, helping take Phoenix to the next level.

The question, though, is how will Phoenix guard Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, who have been terrific for the Clippers to start the season. The pair are both averaging more than 22 points per game and both are shooting over 41 percent from behind the arc and 47 percent from the field. That duo has always been the engine that made the Clippers run, but that is even more true this season as they are combining to add roughly 12 assists per game.

If Los Angeles is going to have long-term success this season, it will start with how Serge Ibaka develops into a reliable third option for the Clippers. Ibaka is already the team’s third-leading scorer at nearly 14 points per game, but he’s also one of four players averaging at least six rebounds per game and he ranks second in field-goal percentage at 53.2 percent. If Ibaka is able to dominate the interior while George and Leonard are occupying defenders on the perimeter, that’s a win for the Clippers.

As it relates to my NBA betting predictions for this game, though, it’s hard to bet against the hosts. The New Jersey online sports betting sites have installed the Clippers as two-point favorites, but that is again playing into the hype that the Suns are overrated. The opposite seems more likely to be true with this team of young rising stars, and at +114 odds on the moneyline, it’s hard not to bet the Suns to win the game. Phoenix ranks second in the NBA with an opposing 3-point field goal percentage of 30 percent and leads the league in scoring defense, allowing just 98.7 points per game. Meanwhile, the Clippers rank in the middle of the pack in scoring offense and offensive efficiency rating.

Another stat bettors should keep in mind is these are the two slowest teams in the NBA, so possessions will be limited between these two teams. It’s why I am so intrigued by the over/under on this game being at 217.5. The Clippers are allowing roughly 109 points per game and the Suns are scoring 108 per contest, so if the averages hold, Los Angeles who have to hit its own scoring average to reach the over. I think the Clippers will struggle against this Suns defense, so I’ll get greedy and parlay the Suns plus 1.5 points with the under 217.5 total points at +270 odds.

My Prediction

Phoenix Moneyline

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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