The No. 5 seed Los Angeles Clippers (44-38) will travel for Game 1 against the No. 4 seed Phoenix Suns (45-37) to start their first-round playoff series on Sunday. Even though these two sides were just a single game apart in the Western Conference standings, the Suns come in as a heavy favorite to win the best-of-seven series.
Clippers vs. Suns predictions
Odds to win series: Suns -600, Clippers +400
Regular season record: Suns 45-37, Clippers 44-38
Head-to-head record: Tied 2-2
Despite matching up in the final game of the regular season, the Suns and Clips will take a week off before facing off in a seven-game series. In 2022-23, the two split the four regular season meetings with the road team victorious each time. With that said, LA has not seen the Suns with Durant inserted into the lineup, making it twice as wise to sit KD last Sunday. Now in the postseason, the Clips will see a different beast in the Suns this coming Sunday.
Pick: Suns in 5 games
The Clippers and Suns finished just a single game apart, but these sides seem to be trending in different directions. Phoenix is still less than two years removed from playing in the Finals and has since bolstered its roster with more firepower. Naturally, since Durant has arrived (and recovered from an ankle injury), the Suns have seemed quite unbeatable—Phoenix is 8-0 in games that Durant has played. The fit with Chris Paul and Devin Booker has been undeniably cohesive, and this team is the favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook to win the West.
I don’t know if the Clippers can match up with this version of the Suns, but my doubts are doubled when I realize that Paul George may not return for Los Angeles this round. He has already been ruled out for the beginning of the series. Without George, we saw the Clips struggle against a Suns team last Sunday that played none of its starters: I’ll take Phoenix in five games, even against Kawhi Leonard and LA’s solid supporting cast.