Not sure there has even been a conference final series so full of unknowns as the Los Angeles Clippers vs. the Phoenix Suns in the 2021 West Finals. A future Hall of Famer on each side, Kawhi Leonard for Los Angeles and Chris Paul for Phoenix, will miss Game 2 after both sitting Game 1 – and, frankly, no one seems to know if/when either will play the series. Starting forward Marcus Morris could be out for L.A. as well. The Suns are 5-point favorites on the NBA odds at William Hill Sportsbook to take a 2-0 lead with Devin Booker given an Over/Under of 30.5 points.
Kawhi isn't even with the Clippers in Phoenix because of a knee injury that may or may not involve an ACL issue. Leonard is set for free agency after the season – he will decline his player option – so he's not going to risk serious injury by rushing back. I don't believe he plays in this series at all.
As for Morris, he was fairly awful in L.A.'s 120-114 loss in Game 1 with just six points on 3-for-11 shooting and 0-for-5 from deep. He was limited to 21 minutes with a sore left knee, and Ivica Zubac started the second half – although Morris did play a little after the break. If this were the regular season, he'd probably not play Tuesday but being as it's the playoffs he likely will be out there. Morris isn't listed on the injury report but Coach Ty Lue said Monday that he's uncertain on Morris. When Morris has reached double-digit points in these playoffs, the Clippers are 4-1.
As for Paul, he remains in COVID protocols due to a positive test even though he reportedly was vaccinated back in February. The Suns are hopeful that he will clear protocols "early" in this series, whatever that means. Paul, who has been symptom-free, did dial into the team's postgame locker room via video chat following the Game 1 victory.
"He was holding up this, finger one, it was one game," Suns forward Jae Crowder said. "He was very excited. He had a smile on his face. But he's eager to get back."
Booker really stepped up with Paul out in Game 1 with 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for his first career triple-double. He became the fifth player over the last 60 seasons to record his first career triple-double in the conference finals or later and the fourth player in league history to lead both teams outright in points, rebounds and assists in a conference/division finals game, joining LeBron James, Larry Bird and Bill Russell. Booker is a +2000 long shot to get another triple-double Tuesday and -6000 for no.
On the updated series line, Phoenix is -430 and Los Angeles +330. The Suns are +150 second favorites to win the NBA title even though they would have home-court advantage over favored Milwaukee (+105).
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