After a night off in the NBA, the Clippers and Suns meet for Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, although Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard will both remain sidelined. Let’s breakdown what that means from a betting standpoint.
The Suns have become a pretty tough fade at this point, winning Game 1 of this series 120-114 for their eighth-straight win and cover in this postseason. It improves the Suns to 9-2 straight up and ATS in the playoffs, obviously covering in each victory (with their only two losses to the Lakers at full strength).
No Chris Paul was almost no problem for Phoenix in Game 1, although they did come out of the gates somewhat slow. That’s to be expected, though, as the Suns were off almost a week awaiting the start of the WCF. Devin Booker was able to step up in elite fashion, and Cam Payne is very capable of handling the extra minutes in place of CP.
The Clippers are having far more trouble replacing Kawhi Leonard’s minutes, which I expect to only get worse. Terance Mann had a performance for the ages in Game 6 to closeout Utah. However, that production isn’t sustainable. Marcus Morris was huge in the first game Kawhi missed, but has since scored 13 points in 50 minutes, and is dealing with a knee injury.
After the Suns’ slow start, they responded well from a third quarter deficit to get the cover. Meanwhile, the Clips have gone down 0-2 in each series so far in this postseason, and the previous two were both with Kawhi and against lesser teams than the Suns. I trust Phoenix to keep rolling.
While I like the Suns in the game, and think the Clippers will struggle more and more to replace Kawhi, it’s impossible to ignore the boost Jackson has seen recently. In the three games without Leonard, Reggie has seen a pretty sizable spike in both minutes and usage.
Paul George is obviously being called upon to step up the most in Kawhi’s absence, and while he was solid in Game 1, the Suns also have good perimeter defenders to limit him and double him. Jackson should be allowed to do his thing, and benefits from Payne (and even some E’Twaun Moore) guarding him instead of Paul.
Since Kawhi went down, Reggie is averaging 24.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists (33.7 total) in 38 minutes per game. That jump in minutes — along with Leonard not being on the floor and the attention shifting to George — has led to a huge increase in production. Jackson looked terrific in Game 1, posting a 24-6-4 line, taking advantage of his matchup against backups.
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