Suns vs. Clippers NBA Picks & Predictions

Jason Lake

Monday, December 30, 2013 3:36 PM GMT

The Phoenix Suns aren’t just the most profitable team against the NBA lines – they’re also pushing the Los Angeles Clippers for first place in the Pacific Division.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013, up to December 29 inclusive:

33-30-1 ATS

8-5 Totals

How long can this go on? The Phoenix Suns (18-11 SU, 21-7-1 ATS) have beaten up the basketball lines more than any other team this season. But they’re also winning actual NBA games. Nine of the last 11, to be precise. So why isn’t anyone talking about them? Actually, maybe we should be very, very quiet about this. All your cash are belong to us.

At least we can count on the Suns to fly under the radar for at least one more day. They’ve got a Monday nighter coming up with the Los Angeles Clippers (21-11 SU, 19-13 ATS), who have taken over most of the headlines in La-La Land now that the Lakers are once again without Kobe Bryant. Our NBA lines have the Clippers laying eight points at Staples Center with a total of 212.5. Eight points! That’s going to be hard to pass up.

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Air Miles

I’ve already given praise to the rebuilding effort that new Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough has delivered, and the solid work of first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek. Now let’s take a moment to recognize that most easily overlooked of NBA commodities: the tall white guy from Duke. Miles Plumlee (16.3 PER) has made tremendous strides in his second year as a pro, replacing the departed Marcin Gortat in the middle and doing a very fine job of it.

Plumlee is coming off the best game of his NBA career, dumping 22 points and 13 rebounds on the Philadelphia 76ers (+10.5 away) in Saturday’s 115-101 victory. Phoenix acquired Plumlee from the Indiana Pacers this summer, along with Gerald Green (14.2 PER) and a first-round pick, in exchange for Luis Scola. What looked like a tank-friendly trade has instead made Phoenix a much better team. Funny how these things happen.

The Suns also made off like bandits when they scooped up Marcus Morris (17.1 PER) from the Houston Rockets last February in exchange for a second-round pick. Morris has blossomed since being reunited with his twin brother Markieff (18.1 PER). Same can be said for Markieff, too. Having quality reserves like the Morris Twins has allowed the Suns to really push the tempo; they’re No. 8 in the NBA in pace at 98.0 possessions per game, tied with the Clippers.

Barnes Storming

If you’re bored with hearing about the Clippers and their injuries on the wings, good news: SF Matt Barnes (15.5 PER last year) is back in action after missing 16 games recovering from retinal surgery. Los Angeles is 3-2 SU and ATS since his return. Barnes is a quality defender, and a highly valuable player when his 3-point shot is working. He’s just 29.0 percent this year, down from 34.2 percent in 2012-13, but L.A. will take it.

Now the Clippers need to find some help in the paint. Reserve center Ryan Hollins (8.2 PER) missed Saturday’s 98-90 win over the Utah Jazz (+14.5 away) for personal reasons and might not be rejoining his teammates on Monday. With Byron Mullens (7.6 PER) already falling out of coach Doc Rivers’ rotation, DeAndre Jordan (16.4 PER) has been logging major minutes, and the Clippers have been playing small ball when Jordan sits.

This is where the Morris Twins can punish Los Angeles on Monday (10:30 p.m. ET). Utah reserve center Enes Kanter dropped 17 points and 12 rebounds on the Clippers, who failed to cash in despite a 40-point night from PF Blake Griffin (21.5 PER). Imagine if the Jazz had two shorter, non-Turkish Enes Kanters. And a good starting rotation. That’s what Phoenix brings to Staples in this matchup.

NBA Pick: Take the Suns +8 at JustBet