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The best NBA betting sites have the Suns as a –470 favorite to win this series. The -2.5 game series handicap is sitting at +110 in their favor. The LA Clippers are going to need the very best version of Kawhi Leonard if they are going to pull off an upset against the Phoenix Suns in their first-round playoff matchup.

The Clippers will almost surely be sans Paul George for the entire series independent of how many games it takes. That means that the pressure will now sit on the shoulders of Kawhi Leonard. In his last postseason run with the team he was performing at a level that reminded you of his title run with Toronto.

Since the All-Star break, he has been averaging 27 points per game and shooting 47 percent from beyond the three-point line. More importantly, will be how he is going to defend his opponent Kevin ‘The Return of’ Durant.

The Suns have yet to lose a game with KD in the starting lineup. His prowess as a scorer this season has been a milestone. He is the first NBA player in history to record a 55/40/90 season (Field Goal percentage, three-point percentage, Free Throw percentage).

Both of these teams were underwhelming by their own standards last season. There is an expectation on the two front offices to make a deep run this season considering the team circumstances.

LA Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns Game 1  – 2023 NBA Playoffs Date, Time, Location

Date: Sunday, April 16, 2023
Time: 8 p.m. ET.
Location: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ.
TV Coverage: TNT

Game 1 Odds by BetOnline

Team SP/RL TOTAL ML
Clippers +7 (-110) 227 (-110) +235
Suns -7 (-110) 227 (-110) -290
"Bet

Betting Phoenix Suns

The Suns’ starting lineup is without a doubt the most menacing and versatile offensive attack in the Western Conference as we speak. Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Josh Okogie, Durant, and Deandre Ayton have shared the court for 258 possessions.

In that stretch, the team has a +15.5 differential. They are averaging 120.2 points per 100 possessions. They are holding opponents to 104.6 points per 100 possessions on the other side of the court.
That 5-man lineup is ranking in the 92nd percentile for the opponent’s ‘Effective Field Goal’ percentage (47.9%). It is also ranking in the 82nd percentile in offensive EFG percentage (60.3%). Monty Williams has a wide variety of half-court sets that are custom-made for Durant’s skills.

Having someone like Ayton who can create vertical spacing is a big part of why they are heavy chalk for this series at the best online sportsbooks. The Clippers’ defense can be good, but they are 24th in opponent midrange frequency.

A lot of that is by design rather than accident, but it also reflects how they defend pick-and-roll action best. LA’s drop coverage and their insistence on man-to-man defense is going to play right into Phoenix’s hands in this series.

If the adjustments from Tye Lue come too late it might already be lights out given how the Suns’ defense can lock down when they are playing from in front. Having said that, in spite of the clear on-court advantages for this starting lineup, it is fair to wonder about the legitimacy of their pricing in the market taking into account their schedule of games when Durant has played.

The only playoff-worthy opponent that they have faced with their starting five of choice was the Denver Nuggets two times, and both times the #1 seed was severely undermanned. The Clippers coaches are very adept at coming up with different lineups and schemes to alter other teams’ offenses.

When you have someone of Leonard’s level on the court, there is every reason to think that they can stretch this series much longer than the implied market probability would have us believe.

Betting LA Clippers

Regardless of some questionable roster additions, the fact is that they are packed with veteran leadership. That could be what helps tip the scale in their favor in this matchup. Russell Westbrook has merged himself into the lineup much better than he ever had at the Lakers.

The addition of Mason Plumlee and Eric Gordon grants them the stability and offensive play-making in the second unit that might be crucial against a flimsy Suns bench. The Clippers have grown accustomed to playing slow, half-court basketball.

This, however, is a matchup in which it might be best for them to try to have Westbrook push the pace and attack this squad in the transition while spacing the court. We have seen what the Clippers can do when they are on a roll from deep and running a 4-out offense that pushes the pace seems like the best way to attack the Phoenix team.

LA Clippers vs. Suns Game 1 Pick

LA Clippers.

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