NBA Western Conference Picks: L.A. Clippers at Phoenix Suns

Blake Griffin is averaging over five assists per game this season.
Blake Griffin is averaging over five assists per game this season.

Los Angeles Clippers at Phoenix Suns
Time: 10:35 PM ET
Spread: LAC -10
Total: 207

Betting odds c/o Bovada

The L.A. Clippers are still jostling for position with a game to to in the regular season, tied at 55-wins with San Antonio but needing to pass the Spurs to claim the spot. The Clippers will travel to Phoenix to face the Suns in a game it is 10-point favorites in looking at NBA live lines. The total for the game is set at 207, and for an explanation of how to bet these odds see our NBA odds explained.

The Clips have been rolling and have won nine of its past 10 games, including its last six. The No. 2 Spurs have won 11 straight, but the Clips will do its part to keep the hope for the No. 2 seed alive. If the Clips stay at No. 3 it will likely mean a first round matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies. The series could be a dogfight, with Memphis having been the juggernaut of the West along with Golden State earlier in the season. The Grizzlies have won just four of its past 10, however, so Chris Paul and the Clips would come in with better momentum.

The Clippers have got a strong season from Blake Griffin, who has become more of a point forward than in year’s past. The dynamic forward is averaging 5.3 assists per game, while also grabbing 7.6 rebounds and scoring 22 points per contest. His PER (22.8) is second only to Chris Paul, who is averaging 19 points and 10.3 assists per game, while also coming up with 1.9 steals per game. J.J. Redick is having perhaps his finest season as a pro, putting up 16.4 points per game while shooting 43.8 percent from three-point range.

Jamal Crawford has struggled some with his shot this year, but he’s a flame thrower and his 39.7 percent field goal shooting could rise in the postseason. DeAndre Jordan will be a free agent this offseason, and the Clips have to prioritize his signing as the major move of free agency. Jordan leads the league at 15 rebounds per game and he comes up with 3.23 blocks/steals per game, as well, keeping the Clippers tough in the paint and helping seal off the basket. Griffin comes up with just 0.53 blocks per game, so having a rim protector like Jordan is of utmost importance.

The Suns are 39-42 and will most the postseason. Phoenix traded Goran Dragic at the trade deadline, as well as getting rid of Isaiah Thomas who was signed last offseason. The Suns brought in Brandon Knight, who has been mediocre since arriving in Phoenix. In 11 games, he averaged just 13.4 points and 4.5 assists per game before going down for the season with a heel injury.

Eric Bledsoe is playing reasonably well but hardly worth the max-deal he is on. The former Kentucky Wildcat is averaging 17.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. The Suns have reduced Gerald Green’s minutes, and other than Bledsoe, the only reliable scorer is Markieff Morris.

A team that boasted so much depth has devolved into a model of inconsistency this season. Center Alex Len has looked good, averaging six points, six rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in 22 minutes a night. He’s out for the remainder of the season with a broken nose, but Len is a big body and very coordinated, and he’s shown a number of very good go-to moves, though his biggest attribute remains his size.

Marcus Morris is a decent forward playing behind his twin bother, but he and P.J. Tucker aren’t going to be enough to return this team to the postseason. The Suns will need to retool this offseason, but it’s hard to see the one transcendental star transforming this team. It lost that when Goran Dragic decided he wanted to play elsewhere.

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