The Western Conference Finals are set. The Phoenix Suns take on the Los Angeles Clippers in a seven-game series, where the winner heads to the NBA Finals. Both of these teams are excellent on the defensive end and have overcome adversity throughout the postseason to get here. It should be a hard-fought battle that could come down to who can stay healthier.
Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard have already been ruled out for Game 1. Paul is currently going through the COVID-19 protocol and will be back as soon as he’s cleared. Leonard sustained a knee injury in the last series against the Utah Jazz and has missed the last two games. That leaves it up to Devin Booker and Paul George to lead their teams to victory. Booker has been a monster for Phoenix throughout the year, and George came alive in the last series for Los Angeles.
These teams are evenly matched, which should make for a spectacular series. However, only one can advance to the NBA Finals. With each roster dealing with injuries right now, it’s tough to say which team pulls out ahead. With that said, here are three bold predictions for the Suns-Clippers Western Conference Finals.
Devin Booker averages 30+ points per game
Currently averaging 27.9 points per game throughout the 2021 NBA Playoffs, it’s not that crazy to think Booker can lift his average a tad higher. He may need to do just that with Chris Paul sidelined, as there is no timetable for the point guard’s return. The Suns will have to rely on Booker heavily, as he’ll be the main contributor on the offensive end. It’s a tough task ahead of him, as the Clippers are one of the best teams guarding the perimeter.
Booker’s best bet will be to get aggressive and attack the rim. Taking it to the paint creates multiple advantages for Phoenix. That’s where the Clippers’ defense is weakest, it allows the Suns to control the clock, and it increases the chances of drawing the foul. The Suns are a great free-throw shooting team, so the more often they get to the foul line the better. If Booker can do that, then the Suns will be able to remain competitive in Chris Paul’s absence.
Terance Mann continues his hot streak
Paul George put the team on his back and carried them through a Game 5 win over the Jazz, but it was Terance Mann who proved to be the difference-maker in Game 6. He did everything the Clippers needed him to, as he dropped 39 points to help clinch the victory. With Kawhi Leonard sidelined, Los Angeles needed someone other than Paul George to step up, and Mann delivered.
With Leonard ruled out for Game 1, and uncertain for Game 2, the Clippers may need to rely on Terance Mann again. The second-year player has played sporadically this season and typically doesn’t score all that much. However, with confidence built up from his last performance, he could carry that momentum into the series against the Suns. If can do that, then the Clippers could have three dangerous scorers on the roster once Kawhi Leonard returns.
Clippers fall 0-2, but come back and win the series
Los Angeles has fallen 0-2 in both series they’ve participated in so far. The Dallas Mavericks went up early and fans everywhere thought it was all over. Instead, the Clippers stayed alive and won in seven games. They then fell 0-2 to a much better Jazz team, who had earned the number one seed in the Western Conference. LA tied the series back up but lost Leonard for the remainder of the series. With their backs against the wall, the Clippers found a way to overcome the odds and defeated Utah in six games.
This Clippers team seems to play better when they’re put into a do-or-die situation. The Suns have been one of, if not, the best team in the postseason so far. Falling 0-2 against Phoenix could be detrimental, but we have plenty of evidence that says otherwise. Look for the Suns to get off to a hot start, then the Clippers cool them down and move onto the NBA Finals.