The Phoenix Suns will look to put a stranglehold on the Western Conference Finals when they face the LA Clippers in Game 3 at Staples Center.
With a 2-0 lead in the series, the Suns will be focused on keeping their foot on the gas pedal, especially on the road. They will hope to keep the Clippers from making another comeback from a similar deficit. Paul George and his team had bounced back from 0-2 deficits in the previous two rounds to win those series.
The problem facing the LA Clippers is they have to do it all without Kawhi Leonard for the foreseeable future. It will be an uphill climb for coach Tyronn Lue’s squad even though they have repeatedly shown their resilience throughout the 2021 NBA Playoffs. Playing in front of their fans should bolster their confidence and give them a much-needed lift.
Devin Booker will try to bounce back from his shooting struggles in Game 2. The Phoenix Suns guard scored 20 points but shot just 5-of-16 from the field. He hasn’t been rattled by playing on the road in the playoffs and the LA Clippers should be prepared for a Booker explosion, just in case.
Phoenix Suns Injury Report
The Phoenix Suns’ injury report includes promising news for Game 3 versus the LA Clippers.
Chris Paul, who missed the first two games due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols, is probable for Thursday’s game. The 11-time All-Star is hoping to make his comeback in time for a road game to help the Phoenix Suns gain a nearly insurmountable series lead. Paul was able to pass his cardio exam on Wednesday to get clearance from the NBA’s protocols.
Abdel Nader underwent arthroscopy on his right knee and will remain in street clothes for the Suns on Thursday.
LA Clippers Injury Report
The injury report for the LA Clippers remains the same for Game 3 of their Western Conference Finals series against the Phoenix Suns.
Kawhi Leonard’s knee injury will keep him sidelined for the third straight game in the series. The LA Clippers are keeping the true condition of his knee under wraps and it’s likely to be worse than initially thought. Leonard is expected to be out longer until an update from the organization is officially released.
After undergoing season-ending surgery on his back, Serge Ibaka is recovering but will not be a contributor in the playoffs. He should be ready, however, for the start of next season.
Phoenix Suns vs LA Clippers Predicted Lineups
Paul is extremely likely to make his return to court on Thursday. This would mean Cameron Payne will be sent back to the bench in a reserve role. Paul’s return should free up Devin Booker from extra playmaking chores. It will also allow Payne, who led the Phoenix Suns with 29 points in Game 2, to take over the point guard responsibilities when Paul needs a breather.
Nader didn’t play much when he was healthy, which leaves coach Monty Williams’ substitution patterns intact for Game 3.
LA Clippers coach Tyronn Lue inserted Patrick Beverley into the starting lineup in Game 2 with Leonard sidelined and it did wonders for their defense. Beverley hounded Booker into a poor shooting night and the Clippers nearly escaped with a win on the Phoenix Suns’ home court. Expect Beverley to start once again in Game 3.
Reggie Jackson and Terrance Mann have shouldered more responsibilities without Leonard last time out. They will be expected to contribute more than ever in this crucial encounter.
Ivica Zubac and Nicolas Batum have taken turns starting in Ibaka’s place so far in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. Zubac did an excellent job in Game 2 and he could start again for Lue’s side in Game 3. DeMarcus Cousins has come off the bench to relieve either Zubac or Batum, and he could play a few minutes again on Thursday.
Phoenix Suns vs LA Clippers Predicted Starting 5s
Point Guard – Chris Paul l Shooting Guard – Devin Booker l Small Forward – Mikal Bridges l Power Forward – Jae Crowder l Center – Deandre Ayton
Point Guard – Reggie Jackson l Shooting Guard – Patrick Beverley l Small Forward – Paul George l Power Forward – Marcus Morris Sr. l Center – Ivica Zubac
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