Clippers vs. Suns NBA Odds & Picks: Why the Total Has Value in Matchup of Western Conference’s Elite (Wednesday, April 28)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns.
- Two of the top teams in the West — the No. 2 seed Suns and the No. 3 seed Clippers — face off in a pivotal game for the postseason picture on Wednesday night.
- The Clippers are just one game behind the Suns for the No. 2 spot and have already defeated Phoenix twice this season.
- Austin Wang explains why there is value on the total in this matchup that features a divisional matchup between two slow-paced teams.
Clippers vs. Suns Odds
All eyes will be turned in to ESPN on Wednesday night to see the Suns and Clippers battle it out as they inch closer to the No. 1 seed currently held by the Utah Jazz.
The Clippers will be looking to complete a season sweep of the Suns after beating them on Jan. 3 and April 8, covering the spread both times. However, they will likely be without their superstar Kawhi Leonard, who is currently listed as doubtful. This will be a tall task as the Suns have been unstoppable at home (23-9 record for the season).
With the Suns coming off a tough road trip and the Clippers missing their best offensive player, I foresee a low-scoring game between these two slow-paced, divisional foes and see significant value on the opening total.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers have continued to roll as of late, going 19-6 straight up since the All-Star break and 15-9-1 (62.5%) against the spread during this time. They have been blessed with an easy schedule as of late, getting to face the Rockets (twice), Pistons (twice), Pacers and Timberwolves in their last 10 games.
This season, the Clippers are 10-6-1 (62.5%) to the under when Kawhi Leonard does not play, per the Sports Data Query Language database. Yes, Leonard is known for his exceptional defense, but is a key cog in their offense as well. The Clippers’ offensive production decreases by 11.7 points per 100 possessions when he is off the court, per Basketball Reference.
Their games have gone under in six of their last seven games. With injuries weighing on their team, their offense just has not been producing as they are accustomed to. Paul George has had to shoulder a bigger load and there are not many other shot-creators he has alongside him.
With the absence of Patrick Beverley, the Clippers recently acquired Rajon Rondo in desperate need for a traditional point guard to help run the offense, but he hasn’t really built a rapport or chemistry with the Clippers team just yet.
They’ve been facing really poor defenses as well, so now they face an elite defense that can really limit their offense. While the Clippers rank first in the NBA in 3-point percentage (41.96%), the Suns are sixth in 3-point percentage allowed (35.28%), neutralizing the Clippers’ strengths.
The Clippers still remain one of the slowest-paced teams in the league at 26th with 97.85 possessions per game, per NBA Advanced Stats.
The Phoenix Suns are finally back home after a brutal five-game road trip to the east coast to face the top teams in the conference (Bucks, 76ers, Celtics, Nets, Knicks). They won three of those five games and showed viewers that they need to be taken seriously as a title contender. The schedule makers did the Suns no favors as they now have to face the Clippers and the Jazz on Friday.
Home teams in divisional games who won their previous game and off a five-game road trip against non-conference opponents are 28-11-3 (71.8%) to the under in the history of the SDQL database, dating back to the 1995-1996 season. This is active on the Suns, who may be fatigued from the long and tough road trip, yet still want to play tough against a divisional foe. I expect the Suns to revert back to their early season slow-paced, defensive-minded attack.
Phoenix still ranks 24th in Pace (98.11) and is fifth in Defensive Rating (109.2), per NBA Advanced Stats. They’ve gone 12-4 to the over in their previous 16 games, so it may seem crazy to suggest an under. However, I can see their efficiency on offense dipping after an emotional win and a long road trip.
Since the 2010-2011 season, when two elite teams (defined as win percentage greater than .600) play each other after the All-Star break, those games have gone 197-131-10 (60.1%) to the under, per SDQL.
These teams tend to play more defense against conference rivals when they are fighting for seeding. This should hold especially true for these two strong defensive and slow-paced teams such as the Clippers and Suns.
I am ecstatic that this line has opened up at 224.5 and still think there’s value at the current number. With the injury to Leonard, the Suns off their long road trip to the east coast and my projection of increased defensive efforts in the race for playoff seeding, my fair price on this total is 218 and I would happily bet this down to 220.
Pick: Under 222.5 (down to 220)