Series Preview: Phoenix Suns face Los Angeles Clippers in first round of NBA playoffs

The Phoenix Suns (45-37, No. 4 seed in Western Conference) face the Los Angeles Clippers (44-38, No. 5 seed in Western Conference) in Game 1 of their first-round series in the 2023 NBA playoffs Sunday at Footprint Center. The game will tip off at 5 p.m. PT and be televised by TNT. 

The Suns are expected to have a very deep playoff run with their addition of Kevin Durant, who was traded to the team for beloved forwards Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, four unprotected first-round picks and a pick swap in 2028. Forward Jae Crowder was also a part of the deal but was later dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Phoenix has won all eight of its games in which Durant has been in the lineup. The superstar forward, who this year became the first player in NBA history to shoot 55 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line, averaged 26.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 blocks in those contests while shooting 57.0 percent from the field and 53.7 percent from 3-point range.  

The Durant-led Suns will face the Clippers, who have had championship expectations in the past few seasons but have been unable to fulfill them. Los Angeles notably signed superstar forward Kawhi Leonard in free agency in 2020, which was expected to give them a big boost toward a championship. The Clippers also traded for forward Paul George, who is unavailable to start this first-round series due to a right knee sprain. 

Los Angeles advanced to the Western Conference semifinals in 2020 but lost a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets. The Clippers made the conference finals in 2021, but they were without Leonard due to a torn ACL and lost to the Suns. 

Los Angeles did not make the postseason in 2022 since it struggled with health. 

The Suns and Clippers played four times this season and split the meetings. Los Angeles won the last two contests, including a 119-114 win at Footprint Center last Sunday, but Phoenix was without four starters (Durant, guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul and center Deandre Ayton) and three other rotation players. 

The Suns have opened as a 7.5-point favorite for Sunday’s game, according to DraftKings, and have the third-best odds to win the NBA championship, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. 

Here is a look at each team through statistics provided by TeamRankings. 

  • Points per game: Phoenix (No. 17, 113.6); Los Angeles (No. 18, 113.6) 
  • Assists per game: Phoenix (No. 3, 27.3); Los Angeles (No. 24, 23.9) 
  • Rebounds per game: Phoenix (No. 8, 52.6); Los Angeles (No. 14, 51.5) 
  • Shooting percentage: Phoenix (No. 23, 46.7); Los Angeles (No. 13, 47.7) 
  • Effective field-goal percentage: Phoenix (No. 22, 53.5); Los Angeles (No. 11, 55.1) 
  • Three-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 7, 37.4); Los Angeles (No. 3, 38.1) 
  • Two-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 29, 52.0); Los Angeles (No. 22, 53.9) 
  • Free-throw percentage: Phoenix (No. 11, 79.3); Los Angeles (No. 17, 78.1) 
  • Average scoring margin: Phoenix (No. 9, +2.1); Los Angeles (No. 17, +0.5) 
  • Turnovers per game: Phoenix (No. 11, 13.5); Los Angeles (No. 18, 14.2)
  • Offensive efficiency: Phoenix (No. 17); Los Angeles (No. 12) 
  • Opponent points per game: Phoenix (No. 6, 111.6); Los Angeles (No. 13, 113.1) 
  • Opponent shooting percentage: Phoenix (No. 6, 46.6); Los Angeles (No. 15, 47.4) 
  • Opponent effective field-goal percentage: Phoenix (No. 5, 53.2); Los Angeles (No. 15, 54.3) 
  • Opponent 3-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 13, 35.7); Los Angeles (No. 20, 36.5) 
  • Opponent 2-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 6, 53.0); Los Angeles (No. 11; 53.9) 
  • Opponent total rebounds per game: Phoenix (No. 14, 51.3); Los Angeles (No. 11, 50.4) 
  • Personal fouls per game: Phoenix (No. 26, 21.2); Los Angeles (No. 10, 19.5) 

– The Suns are entering their third straight postseason. The Suns advanced to the 2021 NBA Finals and lost to the Milwaukee Bucks. Last season, Phoenix had a franchise-best 64 wins during the regular season and had the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. However, it lost a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals and lost to the Dallas Mavericks in seven games. 

– The Suns are looking to get past a sour end to last postseason, when they lost to the Mavericks by 33 points at home. 

– Phoenix’s roster is different from the last two seasons. The Suns have Durant instead of Bridges, who was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year last season, and no longer have Cam Johnson, a potent 3-point shooter. 

– The Suns are led in scoring by superstar guard Devin Booker, who averaged 27.8 points per game in 53 regular-season games. Booker’s points per game average is the most by a Suns player in their history, regardless of games played. 

– Phoenix still has stars who have been with it from the last two postseasons. Starting point guard Chris Paul averaged 13.9 points, 8.9 assists – fifth-most in the NBA – 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game in the regular season. Starting center Deandre Ayton is technically the team’s leading scorer at 18.0 points per game since Booker and Durant – who averaged 29.1 points per game in the regular season with the Brooklyn Nets and Suns – did not play in at least 58 games. 

– The Suns finished eight games over the .500 mark after they started the season 15-6 and later fell to 21-24 while battling injuries. Booker was out for more than a month due to a groin injury, but the team stayed relatively afloat. The Suns also did not have Durant for three weeks due to a sprained left ankle after he played his first three games with the team. 

– Phoenix’s bench will be a key part of its postseason run. The Suns no longer have forward Crowder or Johnson, each of whom were good 3-point shooters and defenders. Phoenix still has backup guard Cam Payne, who averaged 10.3 points, 4.5 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 48 games played, and Landry Shamet, who averaged 8.7 points and shot 37.7 percent from 3-point range, from last season. Torrey Craig, a fan-favorite for his efforts in the last two seasons, is with the team and averaged 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds during the regular season. 

Backup forward Ish Wainwright is also a capable shooter.

– The Suns will play wing Terrence Ross, who signed as a free agent after being bought out by the Orlando Magic, and likely wing T.J. Warren, who was with the team during some of its ‘dark years’ last decade with Booker. Phoenix also has two centers it can employ: Bismack Biyombo, a shot-blocker who plays with a high motor, and Jock Landale, who is a capable low-post player who can also stretch the floor. 

– Phoenix has some other options it can go to off the bench. Backup guard Damion Lee shot 44.5 percent from 3-point range during the regular season, which was the third-best mark in the NBA. Backup forward Ish Wainwright is also a capable shooter. 

– An important note: the Clippers will not have starting forward Paul George for Game 1 and possibly their entire first-round series, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

George is the Clippers’ leading scorer at 23.8 points per game in the regular season. 

– Los Angeles will likely be carried by Leonard, who averaged 23.8 points with 6.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.4 steals during the regular season. Leonard had 25 points in the regular-season finale for the teams last Sunday. 

– Los Angeles averaged the third-most bench points in the NBA during the regular season, which will test Phoenix’s depth.

– The Clippers are coached by Ty Lue, who is in his third season with the team. Lue won an NBA championship with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 against the Golden State Warriors, who set an NBA regular-season record with 73 wins. 

– Here is a link for more stats on the Clippers ahead of their first-round series against the Suns.


Leezus Media will have you covered with takeaways from today’s game against Los Angeles. Here is how our staff picked the series. 

Andrew (@AndrewLeezus): Suns in 6 

Aaryan (@AaryanS19): Suns in 5 

Caden (@Caden_044): Suns in 6 

Stephen (@StayTrueSDot3): Suns in 5 

Ruben (@itsRipalda): Suns in 5 

Trevor (@TrevorMBooth): Suns in 7

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.

My Cart Close (×)

Your cart is empty
Browse Shop
Zeen Subscribe
A customizable subscription slide-in box to promote your newsletter
[mc4wp_form id="314"]
Subscribe for notification