Clippers vs Suns – NBA Pick for February 23rd
The NBA returned from the All-Star break with a 6-game slate on Thursday, but we get a big 11-game smorgasbord here on Friday. The L.A. Clippers, fresh off a tough 134-127 loss to the Warriors last night, will visit the Phoenix Suns on the second half of a back-to-back.
Most believed the Clippers were waving the white flag when they dealt Blake Griffin to the Pistons last month, but they sure haven’t played like a tanking team. LAC has won 7 of their last 10 overall, and they’re currently just a game adrift of the Pelicans for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
The Clips do have a couple of injury situations to monitor ahead of tonight’s game. We don’t have an official injury report yet, but Danilo Gallinari suffered a hand injury last night in Oakland. The hand was reportedly swelling after the game, so we’ll go ahead and assume he’s questionable to play tonight. Ditto for Avery Bradley, who missed last night’s game.
Even without those 2 tonight, the Clips have plenty of offensive firepower. Lou Williams just keeps putting up massive numbers. You don’t often see 31-year-old veterans break out and have career years, but that’s what Sweet Lou is doing. The former Sixth Man of the Year scored 21 points and dished out 12 assists in 34 minutes last night against the Warriors.
On the season, Williams is averaging a career-best 23.1 points per game on 44% shooting from the field. He’s become the focal point offensively for this team, which is certainly something nobody could’ve expected when he was acquired in a trade from Houston over the summer.
DeAndre Jordan also has more responsibility without Griffin in the fold, and he’s been putting up some hefty numbers of his own. Over his last 5 games, DJ is averaging 15.2 points, 16.4 rebounds and about a block and a steal per game.
As for the Suns, they acquired Elfrid Payton from the Magic for a second-round pick on deadline day. Payton is a former lottery pick that never quite developed as the Magic had hoped. If his first 3 games in Phoenix are any indication, though, Payton still has massive potential at 24. In 3 games with the Suns, Elf is going for 20.3 points, 6.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds on blistering 57% shooting from the field.
Payton’s shooting percentage will come down eventually, but he looks rejuvenated now that he’s gotten a change of scenery.
The Suns are also thin up front, as Tyson Chandler is listed as doubtful. That leaves Alex Len as the lone traditional center on the roster. Considering he started the last game against Rudy Gobert and the Jazz, one would imagine Jay Triano will put the big man in the starting unit again tonight to battle with Jordan.
Otherwise, Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender have been masquerading as centers at times. The second-year players have yet to break out, though both have shown flashes at times. Bender is logging between 25-30 minutes per game these days, and he’s given the Suns a decent option to space the floor.
The Suns also got Devin Booker back from injury last time out against Utah. He showed no ill effects from his hip problem, as Triano immediately threw him out there for 36 minutes. Considering the Suns have had about a week off, we can safely expect no minutes restriction on Phoenix’s franchise player moving forward.
Neither of these teams likes to defend, and they’ve both been playing at a fast pace of late. The Suns have been held under 100 points in 4 of their last 5 games, but they shouldn’t have a problem scoring tonight against a Clipper team playing for the second night in a row.
The implied total of 225.5 is one of the larger totals on the board tonight, but this game is shaping up to be a real shootout. Take the over on 225.5 points in this one.
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