By Greg Frank
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#2 Phoenix Suns vs. #4 Los Angeles Clippers
Game 3: Thursday at 9:00 PM ET on ESPN
Analysis: They may be down their best player, but the Clippers have shown no willingness to fold in Kawhi Leonard’s absence all postseason long. After all, they did win a pivotal Game 5 against Utah on the road before closing out the Jazz at Staples Center in Game 6, and Leonard was unavailable in each of those games. The competitive nature of Games 1 and 2 of this series, despite Phoenix winning both, indicated that Los Angeles certainly isn’t backing down against a red-hot Suns team that has now won nine straight and is 10-2 overall in the playoffs. So for as hot as Phoenix is, why are the Suns only one-point chalk in a game they are getting Chris Paul back in? Also make sure to ask yourself a few other questions about tonight’s Game 3 in the Western Conference Finals between the L.A. Clippers and the Phoenix Suns.
Are the Suns just going to coast to the NBA Finals? Do the Clippers even feel pressure down 0-2 in a playoff series for the third round in a row, especially having rallied to win the previous two series?
Does the line itself just feel fishy with Phoenix only laying one despite getting arguably its best player back and the Clippers still without theirs? I don’t doubt Phoenix may win this series, sure, but I don’t believe that it’s going to come without some adversity. Given that the Clippers have been the butt of many jokes for several consecutive playoff disappointments, I doubt it’s a roster that’s happy just to be in the conference finals, especially after they lost Game 2 in such crushing fashion down the stretch. Some might say that was the breaking point for Los Angeles and this is where it will truly miss Leonard. I say it’s a team that’s ready to respond, at least in a must-win scenario in Game 3 back at home, just like the Clips did against Utah in Round 2. All the way back to win the series again, for the third time in a row in less than two months? Probably not. Ready to put up a fight and keep their title hopes alive? You can literally bet on that.
Best Bet: Clippers +1