Suns vs. Clippers Odds, Pick, Prediction: Value on Short Favorite (Dec. 15)

The Phoenix Suns take on the Los Angeles Clippers in Thursday night NBA action. While Kawhi Leonard isn't expected to play on this second night of a back-to-back, Paul George is, which would be key for Los Angeles. Check out Joe Dellera's full betting guide and pick for Suns vs. Clippers below.

Suns vs. Clippers Odds

Suns Odds +1.5 (-108)
Clippers Odds -1.5 (-112)
Over/Under 218
Time 10:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Suns take on the Clippers in a game that has the potential to be quite the Western Conference showdown.

With the Clippers on the second game of a back-to-back, how do we navigate the seemingly inevitable injury management? Let’s dive in and see where the betting value lies.

Phoenix Suns

The Suns currently list a number of players on their injury report, including Devin Booker (hamstring, questionable), Deandre Ayton (ankle, questionable), Cam Payne (foot, out), Duane Washington (hip, out), and Cam Johnson (knee, out).

Booker has missed the last two games with this injury, and Ayton played just 15 minutes against the Rockets before being lifted. Both injuries are notable, as Mikal Bridges would become the primary scoring threat while Bismack Biyombo would enter the starting rotation.

The Suns have recently hit a rough streak, having lost five consecutive games, including their most recent matchup to the Rockets. Over the last two weeks, the Suns have a -8.9 point differential per 100 possessions and are just 1-6.

Their big issue has been on defense, as they’re allowing 121.2 points per 100 possessions. Despite that, they still rank fourth-best in Adjusted Net Rating on the season and have been successful overall.

One of the Suns’ issues is they don’t take many shots at the rim but also don’t take a ton of 3s despite posting strong shooting percentages from both locations. While they have elite scoring from elsewhere on the floor, especially midrange, it leaves them susceptible to the “math problem” of playing teams that take more 3s or high-percentage looks.

Additionally, if they fall behind, they are not a team geared to make a quick comeback.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers played last night and took care of business against the Timberwolves. Kawhi Leonard played a season-high 31 minutes, and I would be shocked to see him play in both ends of this back-to-back set.

Another player the Clippers have managed from an injury perspective is Luke Kennard, who is unlikely to play tonight as well.

The one player who is truly questionable is Ivica Zubac. He felt left knee discomfort last night and played just 17 minutes. When he was out, the Clippers opted to play a smaller lineup with Nicolas Batum and Robert Covington taking the additional minutes. Zubac has played every game for the Clippers this season, and his defensive impact cannot be understated.

The Clippers have played better of late. They’ve won three in a row and now sit at 17-13 on the season after their initial rough start.

One player who has led the charge is Paul George. The Clippers are 14-8 when PG plays, and he has commanded a usage rate of roughly 34% without Kawhi this season. In those games, he averaged 26.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists. He assumes the role of this team’s best player.

While the Clippers offense has struggled this season, they have improved slightly over the past few weeks and are scoring two more points per 100 possessions over the last two weeks.

One of their strengths has continued to be their defense. The Clippers have the fourth-best Adjusted Defensive Rating on the season. They force teams off the 3-point line, but they allow midrange opportunities — a spot where the Suns excel.

It will be interesting to see how the Clippers handle this, especially because the Suns took their fourth-most 3s in any game this season to win, 112-95, when they matched up in October.

Suns-Clippers Pick

With all of the injury news, it’s tough to navigate this matchup; however, George has played in the Clippers’ prior back-to-backs and should be good to go tonight.

With George in, I like the Clippers’ chances, especially if this game goes small and neither Zubac nor Ayton can play. Los Angeles is perfectly designed to compete in a game that’s primarily wings.

One prop I’ll be looking to play is Paul George rebounds whenever it opens. It has been set at 5.5 the last few games, and with his triple-double last night, I expect this to jump to 6.5. Even at 6.5, he has exceeded that number in 12-of-22 games this season. I’d play the 6.5 down to even odds.

At that point, I would pivot to points + rebounds and look for a line around 31.5 — he has averaged 32 PR without Kawhi on the season.

The Clippers have played better of late. While the Suns started off strong, the potential absence of Ayton would significantly impact their defense.

Pick: Clippers -1.5