With two strong teams about to collide, the Under is the smart NBA pick for Thursday’s matchup between the Phoenix Suns and L.A. Clippers.
Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Thursday, April 8, 2021 – 10:00 PM ET at Staples Center
There’s a lot to like about both the Phoenix Suns (36-14 SU, 33-17 ATS) and the Los Angeles Clippers (34-18 SU, 30-22 ATS). These are two of the top teams in the Western Conference, competitive at each end of the court. They’re also as close to full health as they’ve been in a while, with even more talent on board after the trade deadline. So which side should you take this Thursday now that the Clippers have opened as 5-point home favorites on the NBA odds board at Bet365?
Neither. With both these teams performing so well, there isn’t much value to be had on the NBA spreads. The total is another matter, though. This could be a good spot for the Under, with the total checking in at 224 points as we go to press – not a very big total in this day and age, but these are also two of the slowest teams in the league, and they’ve only gotten slower since the deadline.
On the surface, the Clippers haven’t been very kind to the Under at 22-29-1. But as the season has worn on, this veteran team has gotten a little bit slower, and the Under appears to have the upper hand now at 3-1 in their last four games and 7-5 in their last dozen. That should only improve now that Patrick Beverley (plus-0.5 VORP), one of the better defensive point guards in the league, has returned from a long injury layoff.
The addition of Rajon Rondo (minus-0.1 VORP) at the trade deadline should help, too. Rondo’s offense has been shaky for a few years now, playoffs notwithstanding, but he can still defend well – and the Clippers sent Lou Williams (0.0 VORP) to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Rondo, giving up offense for defense. Add the recent 10-day contract given to DeMarcus Cousins (plus-0.3 VORP), and Los Angeles have even more veteran stopping power heading into Thursday’s matchup.
Slow and Steady
The Suns got better at the trade deadline, too, stealing defensive wing Torrey Craig (plus-0.1 VORP) from the Milwaukee Bucks for cash and a trade exception. Also, Frank Kaminsky (plus-0.5 VORP) has just come off the COVID-19 list. the stretch-5 has improved his defensive game considerably this year, becoming a reliable two-way big both off the Phoenix bench and in the starting lineup.
Then you have the very slow pace these teams operate at. On the season, Phoenix (99.4 possessions per game) and Los Angeles (98.2) rank in the bottom fifth of the league in tempo. Over the past six games, they’ve slipped to 97.6 and 96.7 possessions per game, respectively. This season has been a long haul for everyone – the Under went 33-24 across the league the past week – and the Suns will be tired for this contest after needing overtime Wednesday night to beat the Utah Jazz 117-113 (Over 227, thanks to those extra five minutes) as 2.5-point home dogs. So even with that low total, I think the Under belongs in your NBA picks for this game as well.
NBA Pick: Under 224 (–110) at Bet365