Devin Booker and the West-leading Suns face a stiff test as they play the LA Clippers. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- The Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns matchup on January 3rd
- Phoenix sits atop the Western Conference with a 5-1 record
- Get the latest Clippers vs Suns odds below, along with our betting prediction
The Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns face-off on January 3rd 2021. This is the first time the two teams have met since Devin Booker’s buzzer-beater over Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the Orlando bubble. It’s a different Phoenix team from then, however, including former Clipper Chris Paul and veteran forward Jae Crowder.
Under Ty Lue and with new pieces like Serge Ibaka and Luke Kennard, the Clips are a different team, too. A 4-2 start to the season puts Lue’s team where they had hoped to be. They are 2.5-point favorites over the Suns for this Sunday matchup.
Los Angeles Clippers vs Phoenix Suns Odds
|Los Angeles Clippers||-2.5 (-110)||-136||Over 218.5 (-110)|
|Phoenix Suns||+2.5 (-110)||+116||Under 218.5 (-110)|
Odds taken on Jan 3 from FanDuel.
Booker, after playing the best basketball of his life in the bubble, has had a poor start to the season. He’s averaging 5.8 turnovers and scoring only 20.5 per game, down from 26.6 last season. This relative slump will not last forever, and it’s testament to the strength of these Suns that they have gone 5-1 with Booker looking out of sorts.
There have been flashes of Booker and Paul developing the sort of chemistry that makes the Suns contenders. Booker, if anything, appears to be playing through rust. Phoenix is good enough to beat strong teams even with Booker far from his best – they have already toppled the Mavericks, Jazz and Nuggets. The Clippers are a different beast, however, and they will need Booker to find something close to his Orlando standards.
No player is turning it over as much as Booker on the young season. The Clippers’ defense has been inconsistent thus far, but they are well equipped to force turnovers. Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley and Paul George will all be aggressive with Booker – against such a talented team, he cannot afford to turn it over at the rate he has.
Inconsistent was perhaps being kind to the Clippers defense. Per Cleaning The Glass, they are 26th in opponent points per possession in the halfcourt and in transition. These numbers are bloated by the freak blowout at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, but the Utah Jazz also found it too easy to get good looks. Los Angeles’ defensive performances so far have fluctuated.
Just like last season, the Clips have the personnel to be an elite defensive group. Whether it’s miscommunication or poor effort, they have not performed at that level on a consistent basis.
They face a Phoenix team which has shot the ball well (sixth in three-point percentage) and despite Booker’s woes, ranks in the top 10 in turnovers. The defensive improvement from the Suns has rightly been the focus, but they have also quickly become a typical Chris Paul team – they look after the ball and their offense flows. It helps when Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne are all shooting over 40% from three.
The game with Dallas was over inside the first quarter because of poor defense. LA couldn’t sustain strong defensive standards for longer than short bursts against Utah. The Suns will make them work on the defensive end, and they’ll take advantage of any passive spells.
Sheer weight of talent has made the Clippers favorites. That’s understandable, and their 4-2 record shouldn’t be downplayed. They already have three impressive wins over contenders.
Phoenix has looked the better team thus far. They have defended at a high level more consistently, and they have found ways to win even when their best player has been subpar. How quickly everything has settled for the Suns is remarkable.
Bookies are still catching up with how good this Suns team is. They are a good bet on the moneyline.
Pick: Phoenix Suns Moneyline (+116)
Sam Cox is a freelance writer and sports junkie, who has spent the past several years immersed in the online gaming industry. He has worked with 888sport, Oddschecker, and Colossus Bets to name a few. Based in the UK, Sam also runs Franchise Sports with his brother.