Two Western Conference powerhouses, the Phoenix Suns and LA Clippers, will headline Thursday's slate of games. The two sides have only met once so far this season, where the Clippers emerged as the winners.
Fixture: Phoenix Suns vs LA Clippers | NBA Season 2020-21
Date & Time: Thursday, April 8th, 10 PM ET (Friday, 7:30 AM IST)
Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
The Phoenix Suns won a hard-fought matchup against the Utah Jazz last night to move within 1.5 games of the top seed in the West. They're currently on a seven-game winning streak and will enjoy a five-game homestand after the matchup against the LA Clippers.
The Phoenix Suns have played efficient basketball under head coach Monty Williams. They're ranked second and third in field goal percentage and assists per game respectively this season. Some of the credit also has to go to Chris Paul, who's acted as an on-court coach for the Suns.
The Phoenix Suns' depth beyond their big three of Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton has also contributed to the team's success. Dario Saric has been a good stretch five for the Suns off the bench, averaging 9.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Mikal Bridges is arguably their best two-way player.
Key Player - Devin Booker
Devin Booker is fresh off a monstrous 35-point outing against the Utah Jazz from last night. Booker leads the Phoenix Suns in scoring, averaging 26.1 points, 4.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game this season. He also has a good recent record against the LA Clippers. Booker had 25 points and eight assists in the matchup in early January. He also scored the fallaway game-winner over Paul George and Kawhi Leonard back in the NBA bubble.
Phoenix Suns Predicted Lineup
G Chris Paul, G Devin Booker, F Mikal Bridges, F Jae Crowder, C Deandre Ayton
LA Clippers Preview
Many started doubting the LA Clippers after they suffered a flurry of losses heading into the All-Star break. They've bounced back in the second half of the season and currently occupy the third seed in the West. They've won eight of their previous 10 games, the last two being against the Portland Trail Blazers and the LA Lakers.
The LA Clippers have managed to stay afloat despite several injuries. Serge Ibaka continues to remain sidelined with a back injury. The match against the Phoenix Suns will be his 13th straight missed game. Patrick Beverley also missed 12 games but returned against Portland on Tuesday.
Kawhi Leonard and a bunch of other role players have kept the LA Clippers competitive. Leonard has averaged 25.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and five rebounds per game this season. Meanwhile, newcomers Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins haven't had the chance to impress much so far.
Key Player - Paul George
Despite Kawhi Leonard being so good, it's Paul George whose shooting ability makes him the LA Clippers' most potent weapon against high-scoring teams. George exploded for 22 first-quarter points against Portland, thereby handing his side the edge early on in the game itself. He had a whopping 39 points in the last matchup against the Phoenix Suns and is in the perfect form to replicate that performance.
LA Clippers Predicted Lineup
G Patrick Beverley, G Paul George, F Kawhi Leonard, F Marcus Morris Sr., C Ivica Zubac
Suns vs Clippers Match Prediction
Both the Phoenix Suns and LA Clippers are well matched on paper. Energy reserves will likely come into play in such a tight game. The Suns will be playing immediately after a physical matchup against the Jazz and will also be on the road. In comparison, the Clippers have had a day's rest and will be continuing their homestand. Expect Kawhi Leonard and co. to eke out the win in a close matchup.
Where to watch the Suns vs Clippers?
National telecast of this game will be available on TNT. You can also live stream the same via the NBA League Pass.