Falling behind 0-2 in the NBA Playoffs would make most teams sweat. But not the Los Angeles Clippers, who have battled back from 0-2 holes in their previous two series. This time, however, the Clippers have to do so without Kawhi Leonard when they host the Phoenix Suns in Game 3 of the West finals.
After a razor-thin loss in Game 2, Los Angeles is a 1-point NBA betting home underdog Thursday and takes on a Suns team possibly returning veteran point guard Chris Paul.
Check out our free NBA picks and predictions for Suns vs. Clippers on June 24.
Suns vs Clippers game info
• Location: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
• Date: Thursday, June 24, 2021
• Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN
Suns vs Clippers 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
William Hill US opened Game 3 at pick 'em Wednesday morning, initially went to Clippers -1, then flipped to Suns -1 Wednesday afternoon, and it's still Phoenix -1 at 4:30 p.m. ET today. Ticket count and money are running 3/1 on the short-favorite Suns. But the more interesting development is with the first-half spread, on which the host Clippers are 1.5-point favorites while taking 67 percent of money, though the Suns are getting 56 percent of tickets. "We’ve been seeing this type of discrepancy over the past few years," WillHill director of trading Nick Bogdanovich said. “The team that’s down 0-2, their first-half line is so skewed, in this case it’s 2.5 points. That’s just the way it’s been lately, the smart bettors have a lot of angles, and you have to respect them." The total is out to 221.5 from a 218.5 opener, with ticket count 2/1 and money 4/1 on the Over.Check out the full line movement for this game
Suns vs Clippers series odds
Suns vs Clippers betting preview
Suns: Chris Paul G (Probable)
Clippers: Kawhi Leonard F (Out), Serge Ibaka F (Out), Patrick Beverley G (Probable)
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Betting trend to know
The Under is 12-5 in Clippers’ last 17 games following a loss. Find more NBA betting trends for Suns vs. Clippers.
Against the spread (ATS) pick
If you look back the Clippers’ previous two Game 3 revivals, they were done with defense. But they were also done with Leonard leading the charge on both ends of the floor. Kawhi is officially out for Game 3 with a knee injury and that continues to leave L.A. without its most versatile defender and reliable scoring threat.
Los Angeles battled for all but 0.8 seconds in Game 2 and covered as 4.5-point road underdogs, losing 104-103 in a sloppy contest in which both teams struggled from the floor and made cringe-worthy errors in the fourth quarter, including Paul George’s missed free throws.
The window was open for the Clips, with Chris Paul locked up in COVID jail for the first two games, but all signs point to him returning for Game 3. That’s just another capable scorer L.A. has to account for. Los Angeles is leaning hard on George on both ends with Leonard down, coming off 41 minutes in Game 2, and may have a liability in veteran forward Marcus Morris Sr., who’s fighting through his own knee pain.
Patrick Beverley had success versus Devin Booker in Game 2, tormenting the Suns shooting guard for seven turnovers and just 20 points on 5-of-16 shooting, but the return of Paul spreads those defensive duties thin. Paul was a force in the final two games to close out Denver, scoring 27 and 37 points and stepping up huge in the fourth quarter in Round 2. And since returning to form after a shoulder injury sustained early in Round 1, Paul’s play has powered the Suns to a scorching offensive rating of 119.0 during this nine-game postseason winning streak.
The Clippers may have to pick their poison when it comes to Phoenix’s backcourt stars, as Terance Mann has been abused through two games (nine personal fouls) and the less we say about Reggie Jackson’s defense the better. Ty Lue’s switch-happy disruptive defense did what was asked of it in Game 2 – uglied up the flow and allowed only 24 assists on 41 makes – but missed the opportunity with Paul sidelined.
The switch in venue doesn’t account for much as Phoenix hasn’t been shaken by road crowds this postseason (4-0 ATS in last four road games) and already staked a flag inside the Staples Center with a quarterfinal victory over the Lakers.
PREDICTION: Phoenix -1 (-110)
Game 2 was a fugly contest with neither team looking sharp on offense. The Clippers were an OK 13 for 34 from beyond the arc but had only 18 assists on 39 field goals made. The Suns were worse from distance, knocking down 6 of 26 from 3-point range, but dominated inside with 60 points in the paint.
The pace of the series is being played at a slo-mo rating of 93.0 and L.A. does have a stopper in Beverly who can slow up the explosive Booker. In the first two games of the series, Booker is shooting just 33.3 percent when checked by Beverly and is 9 for 23 with the Clippers pesky guard on the floor.
The potential return of Paul puts stress on Los Angeles’ perimeter defense, but I expect coach Lue to key in on Booker and see if any rust has formed on CP while waiting out his COVID quarantine making TikTok vids with the kiddos.
The Suns will continue to work the ball into center and Game 2 hero Deandre Ayton, who has blossomed during this postseason run. He’s had his way inside against L.A.’s soft interior defense, shooting 22 for 29 from the floor for a total of 44 points in the opening two games. Phoenix has a very patient offense, not tossing up much early into the shot clock. It will keep chipping away inside until L.A. finds and answer for Ayton.
PREDICTION: Under 221 (-110)
First half pick
I don’t know how to quit you “0-2 first-half” trend…
If you’ve been following along during the postseason, you know I’m a sucker for what was the greatest sports betting trend ever. And even with bookies getting wise and padding it more than a trampoline park – drying up all the value – I’m going back to this barren well one more time.
Here’s the trend: NBA playoff teams down 0-2 in a series and returning home for Game 3 are 74-43-9 against the first-half spread since 2007. The narrative is that the desperate team will come out swinging on their home court for at least 24 minutes.
As mentioned, oddsmakers have adjusted to this trend in recent years (it’s just 10-11-2 1H ATS since 2018, omitting the 2020 neutral-court postseason), manipulating the first half lines to the point in which it’s gotten comical. Case in point: Denver was a -2.5 1H fave versus Phoenix in Game 3 of the conference semis but was just -2 for the full game.
The Clippers did already come through for the 0-2 trend in Game 3 versus Utah, covering the -3.5 1H spread with a 15-point halftime lead in that contest. Los Angeles is pegged as a 1-point first-half favorite for Game 3 tonight and I can’t help myself.
PREDICTION: Los Angeles -1 first half (-110)
Suns vs Clippers betting card
- Phoenix -1 (-110)
- Under 221 (-110)
- Los Angeles -1 first half (-110)
Picks made on 6/24/2021 at 8:40 a.m. ET
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