The Los Angeles Clippers are gearing up to face the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. It will be a much-anticipated matchup between two Western Conference teams loaded with star power, and two squads that have had much different seasons than anticipated.
When many were questioning mid-season if the Suns’ championship window had closed, Phoenix decisively silenced those questions by adding Kevin Durant at the trade deadline. With one of the greatest offensive players of all time on their side, the Suns certainly like their chances of making it to the 2023 NBA Finals.
On the other hand, the Clippers were seen as favorites in the West by many in the preseason. After getting Kawhi Leonard back from a torn ACL, LA looked to have a title contender on their hands once again.
Unfortunately, the 2022-23 season has involved far more headaches than Clipper fans had anticipated. Dealing with injuries to multiple important rotation players throughout the year, the team has not been nearly as dominant as expected, and they were at risk of falling into the play-in tournament leading up to the end of the regular season.
Even so, they have as good a chance as anyone of making a run in a seemingly wide-open Western Conference. With one of the best postseason performers of all time on their side in Kawhi Leonard, the possibility for a deep run is always there.
While there will certainly be some surprises in the series, there are also a few things you can go ahead and place your bets on happening.
Surefire event 1: Clippers-Suns will be a long series
Analysts and fans have been busy getting their hot takes off about the Clippers and Suns this week. Many believe this could be a quick and decisive victory for Phoenix, with the Suns’ offensive firepower simply being too much for LA to handle.
In reality, this series is about as close to a coin flip as is possible. The Clippers may have struggled more than expected this season, but their roster is built to thrive in the postseason. That alone does not guarantee a series victory, but it should make this a dogfight to the very end.
We can expect this series to go to at least six games. Both teams are capable of winning on the road, but the Clippers finished with a winning road record in 2022-23 while the Suns did not. The travel time will be hectic for both squads, with neither team getting more than one day of rest until game five of the series.
At the end of the day, the talent differential between the Suns and Clippers is close enough that neither should be running away with the series after two or three games. Durant and Leonard’s carrying power will be enough to keep this series going down to the wire, which leads us to our next guaranteed event.