The LA Clippers head to the Valley of the Sun for the final game of the regular season against another skeleton crew in the Suns.
Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona
When: 12:30 PM PT
How to Watch: Clippervision, Bally Sports SoCal
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Russell Westbrook – Eric Gordon – Kawhi Leonard – Nicolas Batum – Ivica Zubac
Suns: Saben Lee – Landry Shamet – Josh Okogie – Torrey Craig – Jock Landale
Clippers: Paul George out (right knee), Marcus Morris out (back)
Suns: Chris Paul out (rest), Kevin Durant out (left ankle), Devin Booker out (rest), Deandre Ayton out (rest), Cameron Payne out (lower back), Bismack Biyombo out (right knee), T.J. Warren doubtful (Non-COVID illness).
The Big Picture
It took some bumps and bruises along the way, but the LA Clippers are in control of their own destiny with the regular season coming to a close. The pathway is simple: beat the Phoenix Suns and avoid the play-in.
Fortunately for the Clippers, the Suns will be running a similar skeleton crew to what the Blazers just ran on Saturday. The ‘Big 4’ of Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton have all been ruled out. The Clippers do not plan to sit anyone who played against Portland.
This is another trap game though, especially with an early start time on the road. Win and the Clippers have assured themselves no worse than the fifth seed in the Western Conference playoff picture. Lose, and they are going to need some help from other teams to avoid the play-in.
After the Blazers game, the Clippers sounded like they knew what’s at stake. They’ve been adamant about avoiding the play-in. The starters got additional rest in the fourth quarter against the Blazers thanks to the bench.
A win would set the Clippers up with a first round matchup against these same Suns. Too many things can go wrong with trying to ‘tank’ and avoiding the Suns. Win this game and let the chips fall where they may.
The Suns pulled off the biggest move of the trade deadline with the acquisition of Kevin Durant. However, the Clippers will have to wait until the playoffs to face the Suns at full strength for the first time.
With the Suns key guys all ruled out for this game, they will be running a skeleton crew. It will be difficult for them to win and if they cared about avoiding the Clippers they would have played everyone in hopes of bumping the Clippers into the play-in.
But this decision signals two things. The first being they want to get their guys additional rest before the playoffs begin. That’s never a bad thing. Paul, Durant, Booker, and Ayton have all had various injury issues throughout the season. The second is they’re a confident group. They don’t care if they draw the Clippers in the first round. This game doesn’t mean much for them.
The Clippers have mentioned all season how confident they are themselves that if they reach the playoffs, they just needed to get there. Well that time is now. It’s time for them to back up everything they’ve said and set in motion what could be one of the better first round playoff matchups this year.