Suns-Clippers Game 3 best bets: Can Los Angeles avoid 0-3 deficit at home?
An already incredible NBA postseason reached a new high on Tuesday, when Deandre Ayton converted a go-ahead bucket with 0.7 seconds left in one of the most dramatic playoff finishes in league history. Will the Suns carry momentum from that bucket into Thursday's Game 3, or will the Clippers fight back to keep their season alive?
How do you follow one of the greatest finishes in NBA history? That's the challenge for the Suns, who enter Thursday with a 2-0 series lead after the alley-oop heard around the world put the finishing touches on an epic Game 2.
The ending overshadows the fact that, despite a one-point final margin, Phoenix led for nearly the entirety of Tuesday's contest and still poses some legitimate matchup issues for Los Angeles heading into Thursday. The Clippers simply don't have an answer for Devin Booker, who was held in check for three quarters but scored nine points in the fourth quarter - including a clutch 15-footer with 27 seconds left to briefly take the lead.
Paul George is the most obvious solution to slowing Booker, but he looked gassed near the end of the game and squandered two free throws late that could have iced the game. He simply can't handle that task while maintaining his offensive workload, and while Patrick Beverley did an admirable job holding the Suns star to 20 points, that defensive assignment opened the door for Phoenix guard Cameron Payne to drop 29 points.
The Suns will also welcome back Chris Paul, who missed Game 1 and 2 while in the league's health and safety protocols. His team managed a gaudy 55:16 assist-to-turnover ratio in his absence, though his return should allow Booker to hunt shots and could also mean better looks for Ayton, who has been a matchup nightmare for the Clippers' less athletic frontcourt.
Yes, Los Angeles has already responded to two early 0-2 holes with a Game 3 win, though Kawhi Leonard averaged 35 points and 10 assists on 65.9% shooting in those two games. He won't be there to help his side in Game 3, and until Los Angeles can prove capable of outplaying Phoenix for 48 minutes without him, it's hard to bet against the favorite at such a reasonable price.
Pick: Suns -1