The Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers are set to meet in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs as the 4-5 matchup in the Western Conference. Both teams believe they can win the championship this year, which makes this one of the best matchups of the first round.
The Suns were coming off a disappointing finish to the 2022 campaign and were in the middle of the pack this season before landing Kevin Durant in a blockbuster trade at the deadline. Durant was hurt for a small portion of the end of the season, but helped the Suns secure homecourt advantage in the first round. If he can stay healthy, he’s potentially the best player in the Western Conference and can carry this loaded cast to the Finals.
The big question looming for the Clippers is the status of star forward Paul George. Kawhi Leonard has been playing well and the supporting cast is competent, but George being in would provide a real lift and some defensive stability. The Clippers thought they were going to be regular contenders when they landed Leonard and George in the summer of 2019, but they have not made the Finals yet since then. We’ll see if this is the year for them to break through.