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The Los Angeles Clippers (20-12) are set to tangle with the Phoenix Suns (18-15) in a Western Conference showdown live from the desert on Wednesday evening.
The Clips won three straight games and are 17-5 over their last 22 games with James Harden on the court. Meanwhile, the Suns gathered much-needed momentum recently by winning four straight games, most recently beating the Portland Trail Blazers by 21 points.
Here, we will go over the betting odds and share our favorite picks for the Clippers vs. Suns matchup.
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The Clippers are 3.5-point favorites on the road. They’re only 6-8 outside of Los Angeles, while the Suns are 10-9 in the Footprint Center.
|Los Angeles Clippers
|Over 233.5 (-110)
|Under 233.5 (-110)
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The Clippers were excellent to start the year, looked horrible immediately after the Harden trade, and then quickly turned into a championship contender after they figured out how to play with their new star.
Looking at their team numbers, the Clips are eighth in offensive rating, ninth in defensive rating, and 12th in rebound rate. That’s a great spread for a team that has struggled for consistency in years past and that hasn’t appeared to be on the same page night in and night out.
Adding Harden into the fold allowed LA’s offense to open up the playbook and become more fluid. Whereas they often devolved into isolation ball or watching Kawhi Leonard or Paul George go to work in the post, they can now reliably run the high pick-and-roll, set up drags in transition, or roll into secondary actions if the primary is shut down.
Harden’s scoring and assist numbers are down on last year, but he’s still putting up 17.6 points and 8.0 assists per night on 42.8% three-point shooting. That includes 42.1% on 2.1 catch-and-shoot threes per game.
As great as Harden’s been for LA, Leonard is still the man who makes everything work. He’s ninth in individual net rating amongst all regular starters, and the Clippers have not lost the last 10 games he featured in (winning by an average margin of 12.9 points).
The Clippers’ road net rating (1.0) is the eighth-best mark in the league and down 3.7 points on their overall net rating. They haven’t been on the road since they lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder by 19 points two weeks ago. They won three straight road games against the Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers, and Dallas Mavericks just before that.
Looking at the other end, the Suns are not executing like they did early in the year. Once one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league, they’re down to 11th in three-point percentage (37.3%, behind the Clippers’ 38%). They’re also 11th in offensive rating despite having three of the game’s best individual scorers at their disposal.
Another major problem the Suns have faced is their lack of health. Kevin Durant is nursing a hamstring injury and will not feature on Wednesday, which means that Devin Booker and Bradley Beal will be the primary scorers.
Booker is coming off an uncharacteristic 4-16 shooting performance that culminated in 10 points. Beal scored 21 but is averaging just 15.6 points per game for the year.
The Suns, weirdly, are 4-1 without Durant in the lineup. However, they only beat one team with a winning record, the New York Knicks, and only by three points.
One key for Phoenix will be locking down the glass. They’re fifth in rebound rate but are missing Durant’s 6.3 boards per night.
They also need to do a better job of taking care of the ball as they’re 26th in turnover percentage, while the Clippers are 10th in points off turnovers.
Both teams believe they are tier-one championship contenders, but the Clippers have been the better team thus far.
Interestingly, neither team has been that efficient late in games. LA is 15th and Phoenix is 25th in clutch net rating, though that puts the advantage in the visitors’ favor.
LA also has the advantage of shooting the ball, in the health department, and with their overall run of form ever since Harden joined up. All of that together leads us to believe that they are the better pick to win and cover on Wednesday.
Clippers vs. Suns pick: Clippers -3.5 at BetMGM
When: Wednesday, Jan. 3 @ 6:00/9:00 p.m. PT/ET
Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ
TV: NBA League Pass
Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.More info on Grant Mitchell
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