The Phoenix Suns looked like they just couldn’t lose no matter the situation after their thrilling win in Game 2. But the Los Angeles Clippers were able to make the right adjustments in Game 3 to get themselves back into the series.
Game 4 will go a long way toward determining if this will be another quick series for the Suns if the Clippers can once again come back from an 0-2.
Our NBA analysts give out the four bets they are looking at entering Saturday’s game below.
NBA Odds & Picks
|Click on a pick to skip ahead|
|Suns vs. Clippers Moneyline|
|Suns vs. Clippers Spread|
|Suns vs. Clippers Prop|
|Suns vs. Clippers Prop|
Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers
|Pick||Clippers ML (+100)|
|Tipoff||9 p.m. ET|
Kenny Ducey: It should come as no surprise, but I’m on the Clippers once again. There’s so much upward mobility here for a team that just blew the doors off its opponent.
The narrative that the Suns will win simply because “Devin Booker and Chris Paul won’t shoot this poorly again” is a fallacy. Not only is it possible that Paul needs a few games to get back up to speed (and that Booker might be a bit thrown off by this nose injury), but even if the pair shoot better the Clippers probably will, too.
The Clippers were the best 3-point shooting team all season long, and have proven they can sustain its success from deep even without Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers can improve upon their 35.3% shooting from deep in Game 3, and Paul George can certainly do better than 9-for-26 from the field and 3-for-11 from behind the arc.
The bottom line here is that we may have romanticized the Suns just a bit during their long winning streak. They hardly hung on in the first two games of the series at home, and that was despite Tyronn Lue throwing out some wacky lineups just to test the waters.
Lue appears to know what buttons to push — and when to push them — and we will have a series on our hands once this is leveled up at 2-2. Buckle up, because this might go seven games.
Joe Dellera: Ty Lue made a significant adjustment when he placed Patrick Beverley on Devin Booker and his defense has really bothered the young star. Over the past two games he’s averaged just 17.5 points on 27% shooting after dropping 40 in Game 1. This combined with some rust from Chris Paul lead to a Suns loss in Game 3.
In Game 3, the Suns had an eFG% of just 45.9% but an expected eFG% of 52.6%, per Cleaning the Glass. That’s a significant swing, but it is a prime demonstration of shooting variance. While the Suns failed to convert, their shot selection was fine and they got good looks.
Based on this, there’s reason to believe that the Suns can improve and you can only hold one of the league’s top scorers down for so long. I’d expect Booker to bounce back and Chris Paul to have shaken some of the rust off of his shot heading into Game 4.
Additionally, with Cameron Payne listed as probable after playing just 4 minutes in Game 3, Monty Williams will be able to reduce the load on Chris Paul and keep fresh legs on the court. I’ll take Phoenix to take a 3-1 series lead.
|Pick||Paul George Over 5.5 Assists (-115)|
Roberto Arguello: With Kawhi Leonard out, it is no secret that the Clippers’ offense runs through Paul George. His size, athleticism, and scoring ability make him a tough matchup to cover, and he has stepped up with five consecutive games of at least 26 points since Leonard’s knee injury.
George’s 31.9% usage rate in the playoffs ranks in the 91st percentile among forwards while his 21.2% assist percentage ranks in the 96th percentile. No other Clippers player ranks above the 60th percentile in either usage rate or assist percentage (excluding Leonard), and I love the value on George to dish out at least six assists in Game 4. He will tee up plenty of opportunities for assists like lobs to Ivica Zubac or drive-and-kick passes to open three-point shooters.
While George’s scoring gets most of the attention, he has gone over 5.5 assists in three of the last four games, including Game 3 where he recorded eight assists (but also six turnovers).
Books have reacted more quickly to adjust his scoring total up, but they have left more value on his assist total, and I will pounce on this value in Game 4 before his assist total is moved up to 6.5 before Game 5.
Bet this over at 5.5 with value up to 6 at -120 or better.
|Pick||Terance Mann over 1.5 Assists (+172)|
Brandon Anderson: Every new NBA postseason brings us some new surprise stars, and Terance Mann has certainly been one of the breakout stars of the 2021 playoffs.
For those that followed the Clippers regular season closely, it’s no surprise to see Mann playing well. One benefit of all that load management Los Angeles did all season was that many of their deeper rotation players got more regular roles, and that was the case for Mann. He was always ready when called upon, and he always brought energy and a unique penetration ability attacking the rim that not many others on this team have.
It turns out the Clippers need that rim attacking and defensive energy more than ever, especially with Kawhi Leonard out watching, and Mann has taken on an increasingly large role in these playoffs.
Mann played just 14 seconds in the playoff opener for the Clippers and didn’t do much for six games against Dallas before bursting onto the scene with 13 important points in 26 minutes of the Game 7 win. Then, back to the bench, with just nine minutes the first two games against Utah — both losses — before ramping up as the series went on and culminating in that memorable 39-point Game 7 performance.
It seems the Clippers have finally learned their lesson. Mann started Game 1 against Phoenix, and he played 32 minutes in Game 3, his highest playoff total outside of that monster game 7. Like usual, Mann’s energy, movement, defense, and penetration have been a key cog for LA, and his minutes shouldn’t be going anywhere.
During the regular season, Mann averaged an assist every 12.1 minutes on the court. In 21 games with at least 25 minutes played, Mann recorded multiple assists in 15 of them, hitting this over an impressive 71% of the time and averaging 2.9 APG. That hasn’t hit quite as well in the playoffs, but Mann has at least one assist in five straight, and he’s averaging 1.4 APG in his five playoff games with at least 25 minutes.
There’s no special angle about Mann’s passing ability that I’m suggesting here. But Mann moves the ball along nicely as a cog in the system, and he gets out well in transition so that creates easy opportunities too. I expect Mann to play well over 30 minutes again, so this is a volume play.
The numbers tell us he should get at least one assist and likely two, and we are getting +172 juice, an implied 37% of hitting that seems vastly underpriced. I’d play this one at +130 or above, and our props tool gives this one a whopping 25% edge in our favor!
Let’s hope Terance is our Mann tonight.