Not even a week-long break and the absence of Chris Paul could cool the Phoenix Suns, who extended their NBA Playoffs winning streak to eight games with a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in the opening contest of the Western Conference finals.
The Suns, who won 120-114 at home Sunday, opened as 6-point NBA betting favorites for Game 2 Tuesday night. With Paul ruled out on Tuesday afternoon, the spread is already down to -4.5.
Check out free NBA picks and predictions for Clippers vs. Suns on June 22.
Clippers vs Suns game info
• Location: Phoenix Suns Arena, Phoenix, AZ
• Date: Tuesday, June 22, 2021
• Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN
Clippers vs Suns odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
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NBA sharp money and line movement reportBy Patrick Everson
BetMGM Nevada opened the Suns -6 Sunday evening and briefly got to -4 today, largely due to Chris Paul being ruled out as he remains in COVID protocols. As of 6:30 p.m. ET, the line is Suns -4.5, with 60 percent of tickets and 75 percent of money on Phoenix. BetMGM Nevada said there's sharp money on both sides, taking +6, +5.5 and +5 with the Clippers, and laying -4 with the Suns. The total moved from 224 to 222.5, then rose to 223, with public play driving a 3/1 ticket count and 2.5/1 money count on the Over.Check out the full line movement for this game
Clippers vs Suns series odds
Clippers vs Suns betting preview
Clippers: Kawhi Leonard F (Out), Serge Ibaka F (Out).
Suns: Chris Paul G (Out), Abdel Nader G (Out).
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Betting trend to know
The Suns are 25-10 ATS in their last 35 home games. Find more NBA betting trends for Clippers vs. Suns.
Against the spread (ATS) pick
Phoenix closed as a 4-point home favorite for Game 1 and I bit on the Clippers and the points, banking on a rusty Suns squad to buckle under the intensity of a sizzling L.A. team coming off a series win over Utah just two days prior. That wasn’t the case.
Thanks to Devin Booker’s motor and a raging home crowd, Phoenix picked up right where it left off. The absence of Kawhi Leonard was felt on the defensive end for Los Angeles, as it didn’t have an answer for Booker in the second half — which led to extended runs from Phoenix.
Even without Paul at the wheel, the Suns playbook was a well-oiled machine, recording 31 assists on 49 field goals. That’s quite a feat considering the Clippers hang their hat on disrupting the passing lanes and forcing foes to play outside of their set offense, ranking second in opponent assists per field goal (0.561) on the year.
Los Angeles did, however, abandon those defensive roots in the final two games of the conference quarterfinals without Leonard. The Clippers own an advanced defensive rating of 123.2 over the past three outings — a far cry from their regular season metric of 110.6 — and having Kawhi’s shutdown defense would be a quick fix.
But Leonard isn’t coming back for Game 2, as he didn’t travel with the team to Arizona in order to rehab what is being reported as an ACL sprain, although there are rumblings of a more severe injury. Paul, on the other hand, is just waiting for the “all clear” on COVID-19. Since he was vaccinated in February, Paul may not have to sit out the required 14 days, but the “Point God” won't be available in Game 2.
The Suns opened as 6-point home chalk, which is part reaction to the Game 1 result but also bookies padding against Paul’s possible return. With Paul ruled out, the spread shrunk to -4.5. I got out ahead of any news and took Phoenix -6 but I’m still comfortable with that spread with Paul remaining out.
Things apparently don’t rust in the desert and we won’t get a Leonard sighting, at least not until this series swings to L.A.
PREDICTION: Phoenix -6 (-110)
The Game 2 Over/Under total hit the board at 224 points — a slight uptick from the closing number of 219.5 for Game 1, which was demolished with the teams combining for 234 points.
Los Angeles got a chunk of its offense off the bench in the series opener (36 points) as Lue tried to counter the Suns with different defensive matchups. The reserves haven’t been a big part of the playoff picture for L.A., averaging 23.4 points per postseason game but those defensive experiments came at the expense of the offense.
Those role players who help upend Utah failed to show for the Clippers in Game 1, with Terence Mann, Nicolas Batum, and Marcus Morris Sr. all scoring in single figures and shooting a combined 8 for 20 from the field. Leaning on those guys, as well as plug-ins like DeMarcus Cousins, to make up for Leonard’s lost production on the road is a stretch.
Phoenix’s offensive outpouring on Sunday — namely Booker’s 40-point triple-double — is drawing all the attention, but let’s not forget how sound this Suns team has been on defense during the tournament, especially at home where they’re giving up just 100.2 average points a contest on 42.5 percent shooting.
The team owns a defensive rating of 106.1 in the playoffs and with Leonard out, they checked Paul George to 10 of 26 shooting in Game 1 (38 percent). It just so happened seven of those 10 makes came from beyond the arc (7 for 15 from 3-point range). With Deandre Ayton protecting the rim and the chemistry cooking on both ends of the floor, expect Phoenix to get their heels above the arc more in Game 2.
PREDICTION: Under 224 (-110)
First quarter pick
The Suns’ defensive energy this postseason has been overwhelming, most notably in the first 12 minutes of action.
The Suns cranked the defense to 11 in the opening frame of Game 1 and the Clippers got caught on their heels, scoring just 21 points on 8-for-22 shooting in the first quarter Sunday. For the playoffs, Phoenix is allowing just over 24 points per first 12 minutes while limiting foes under 41 percent success from the floor.
With stopping Booker front and center, Lue could tinker with his starting lineup and make some quick changes in the first quarter if the Suns’ shooting guard gets hot. As we saw in Game 1, all those subs seemed to bother guys like Mann and Batum on the offensive end after finding a format in the final games with Utah.
The Clips boast a first-quarter pace rating of just 95.43 in the postseason — slowest in the playoffs — while the Suns clock in at just 97.82. The first quarter of Game 1 finished with a plodding tempo of 90.0.
PREDICTION: Los Angeles first-quarter team total Under 26.5 (-108)
Clippers vs Suns betting card
- Phoenix -6 (-110)
- Under 224 (-110)
- Los Angeles first-quarter team total Under 26.5 (-108)
Picks made on 6/21/2021 at 9:18 a.m. ET
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