The Suns will be the first team to see its season end as they host the Clippers tonight on TNT in the regular-season finale for both clubs. L.A are 10-point favorites on NBA odds with a total of 208.5.
Clippers Need Win, Then Must Watch
The Clippers (55-26) will not know their playoff seeding or opponent until after Wednesday's action. Los Angeles is currently the No. 3 seed but tied record-wise with No. 2 San Antonio and No. 5 Houston. The Clippers will finish either No. 2, 3 or 5 in the West. They will play either the Mavericks, Spurs, Grizzlies, Trail Blazers or Rockets in the first round. The preferred opponents surely would be Dallas and Portland (Blazers are good when healthy but are totally banged up).
Los Angeles won its sixth straight game Monday night in its regular-season home finale, 110-103 against Denver, failing to cover the huge 18-point spread at sportsbooks. I gave the points in my SBR preview for that game, not expecting the Nuggets to be all that interested. Yet it was the Clippers who looked distracted for a while as they were down three at halftime and by six with six minutes left even though the Nuggets sat starters Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari. Three Clippers scored at least 20 points as Blake Griffin had 22, DeAndre Jordan 20 and 21 rebounds and J.J. Redick 20.
Because this game is so important, obviously all the Clippers who matter will play and in fact Chris Paul is looking to play all 82 regular-season games for the first time in his career. The Clippers could gather like a college basketball team on Selection Sunday to watch Wednesday's action to determine their fate.
L.A. is 37-44 against the NBA betting spread this season and 35-43-3 'over/under.'
Suns Just Want Season Over
Phoenix (39-42) was a big surprise last season at 48-34, although that wasn't quite enough for the playoffs. This season really went in the tank when the Suns traded Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas to the Heat and Celtics, respectively, and got back Brandon Knight from the Bucks at the trade deadline. Knight has played just 11 games with the Suns due to injury and will not play Tuesday. Neither will second-year center Alex Len. The Suns have a very uncertain offseason coming because clearly this group isn't good enough to challenge in the West. Knight will become a restricted free agent but almost surely will be signed or that trade would look even worse. The Suns are projected to pick 13th in the draft. Coach Jeff Hornacek's job is safe.
The Suns enter this one having lost four straight and nine of 10. A loss here would mean the franchise's worst 11-game finish (1-10) to a season since the Suns' inaugural season 46 years ago. Three of those past four losses have been blowouts, including 107-91 in San Antonio on Sunday. In addition to Knight and Len sitting out, so did reserve guards Reggie Bullock and Marcus Thornton. That dropped the Suns to 10-16 since dealing Dragic and Thomas and getting Knight. Against the Spurs, the Suns' Jerel McNeal played without being listed on the active roster. Before each game, the head coach gets a list of players and circles the active players and crosses out inactive players. But McNeal was not on the league-created roster after he re-signed a contact Saturday. The Suns got a technical when that was revealed and McNeal wasn't allow to play the rest of the game.
Phoenix is 42-37-2 against the spread and 36-44-1 'over/under' on NBA odds.
The Clippers lead 3-0 and go for the first season sweep against Phoenix in team history. They have won six straight in the series overall, their longest winning streak in the history of the series. The one game in the desert was Jan. 25, a 120-100 Clippers win. Griffin and Paul each had 23 points and the Suns had just one field goal over the final 7:58. Thomas led Phoenix with 25. Only one of the three games ended close: on Dec. 8 in Los Angeles the Clippers won 121-120 in overtime on Griffin's 3-pointer at the OT buzzer. He had a season-high 45 points. Former Clipper Eric Bledsoe had a triple-double of 27 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds for the Suns.
NBA Free Picks: Clippers and 'over' is the NBA pick here. They are 7-0 ATS in their past seven road games. The Suns are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The 'over' has hit in three of the past five meetings.