The Los Angeles Clippers will have a chance to tie the Western Conference Finals in Game 4 against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. The Clippers have overcome two separate 2-0 deficits in this year’s playoffs and on Thursday, they took the first step toward doing it for a third time. LA fell behind in the first half before erupting to win Game 3, 106-92.
Paul George led the way with 27 points and Reggie Jackson sealed the win with an incredible fourth quarter. Jackson finished with 23 points and Ivica Zubac also stepped up, adding 15 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks. The Suns got very little out of Chris Paul and Devin Booker, who scored 15 points apiece and shot a horrific 10-for-40 (25.0 percent) from the field combined and 3-for-14 from beyond the arc (46.4 percent). Phoenix was on a nine-game winning streak, they hadn’t lost since May 27th.
The Suns won the first two contests of the series at home without Chris Paul because Devin Booker was dominant in Game 1 and Cameron Payne played the best game of his career in Game 2. Paul returned to the lineup in Game 3 but he hadn’t played in 11 days because he entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and he was a little rusty, the layoff seemingly affected his conditioning and rhythm. Devin Booker had to wear a face mask in Game 3 after Patrick Beverley broke his nose with a headbutt in Game 2 and while it can’t be blamed for his struggles on Thursday, it didn’t help matters.
Cameron Payne (plus-1.9 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) leaving the game in the first half with an ankle injury was a big blow for the Suns. It is unclear just how severe Payne’s injury is but his absence can put a big burden on Booker and Paul’s shoulders. Game 4 will take place on Saturday at 9:00 PM ET at STAPLES Center.
Team to Win (Regular Time)
• Phoenix Suns: 1.91
• Los Angeles Clippers: 1.98
• Phoenix Suns: -1.5 (2.00)
• Los Angeles Clippers: +1.5 (1.82)
• Over 219.5 (1.94)
• Under 219.5 (1.87)
Key Points to Consider
We told you that Paul George was the player to watch in Game 3. George was about to permanently kill all playoff narratives against him. The run he was on going into Game 2 was like “this is my year, deal with it” and then everything crashed after the two free-throws he missed. We said that the next two games would tell his story and Game 3 was a reminder that he is a different player/competitor since going back to his lead role.
Many wondered if the missed free-throws in Game 2 would shake George’s mentality up but he put them behind him and dominated. Can he carry the Clippers once again? Ivica Zubac was the X-factor on Thursday. The Clippers outscored the Suns by 28 points when Zubac was on the court but they lost by 14 points when he was on the bench. Zubac’s excellent pick-and-roll defense helped hold the Suns to only 42 points in the paint and the Clippers need him to replicate his Game 3 performance at both ends of the court.
Under is 4-1 in Phoenix’s last five games against a team with a winning straight up record, 9-4-1 in Los Angeles’ last 14 home games, 7-2 in the last nine meetings in Los Angeles and 4-1 in the last five meetings.
For the Suns, Devin Booker is expected to score 25.3 points with 6.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds, making 8.2 field goals in 19.4 attempts.
For the Clippers, Paul George is projected to finish with 28.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.2 assists, making 8.7 field goals in 20.2 attempts.
Four-star (out of four) AccuScore hot trend pick on the total in this one. Average score in simulations is Los Angeles Clippers 108.5 to Phoenix Suns 108.4.