The Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns will square off in a rematch from the 2021 Western Conference Finals. Phoenix struggled to begin the season, leading general managers James Jones to make a blockbuster trade that landed them Kevin Durant. The Suns are 8-1 in games Durant plays, and they enter the playoffs as the favorites to come out of the west.
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The Clippers similarly splashed at the trade deadline, acquiring former MVP Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has played well, averaging 16 points on an impressive 49% from the field. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George led the Clippers. George is rehabbing a knee injury and will miss the beginning of the series.
The Suns might be the most dangerous team in the playoffs but can’t be trusted. Kevin Durant has only played nine games for the Suns. It will be interesting to see if the lack of chemistry will be prevalent. Let’s not forget the Sun’s biblical collapse against the Mavericks last year and Chris Paul’s tendency to underperform every single playoff.
Photo Cred: Clips Nation
I think we’re underrating how ridiculous the Sun’s offense is. Durant is still a top 3 player in the league when healthy, Devin Booker is a top 15 player, and Paul is perfect sharing third-option responsibilities with Deandre Ayton. George cannot miss more than three games if they hope to pull off the upset. Still, I think the Sun’s lack of experience and perimeter defense will allow Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook to steal a game in Phoenix.
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The key to what the Clippers do offensively is Leonard. The Claw averaged 27.1 points per game on 53.8 percent field goals after the All-Star break. The theoretical Sun’s defenders for him would begin with Josh Okogie, who would be giving up size individually at 6-foot-4. Leonard’s ability to limit Durant on one end and lead the offense on the other will go a long way toward determining whether the Clippers have any chance against the Suns.
Photo Cred: Clip Nation
Durant, Booker, Paul, and Ayton played only 159 minutes together, outscoring their opponents by 62. That is damn promising.We really have no idea how good they will be. We trust they will be good, so long as they are healthy. The talent at the top of the roster is so impressive, but we also cannot trust them to remain healthy. I foresee this series going seven games, Phoenix is too talented to lose in the first round, Suns in 7.