Hoops Rumors Polls

Poll: What Should Rockets Do With No. 4 Pick?

The Rockets were technically one of the winners on lottery night last month, claiming one of the top four spots up for grabs in the 2023 NBA draft.

However, Houston entered that night second in the lottery standings and was among three teams with the best odds for the No. 1 pick, so the fact that the club will be picking fourth on June 22 qualifies as a bit of a disappointment — especially in a draft with a consensus top three prospects.

Still, while the Rockets likely won’t get an opportunity to draft Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson, or Brandon Miller, that No. 4 pick has plenty of value, either as tool to add another promising young player to their core or as a prime trade chip.

The latest mock drafts at ESPN, Bleacher Report, The Ringer, and The Athletic all have the Rockets using the fourth overall pick to draft Overtime Elite guard Amen Thompson. A hyper-athletic, ball-handling guard with size (6’7″) and the ability to create shots for teammates, Thompson is an intriguing prospect, though he remains raw as a defender, his shot needs some time to develop, and he wasn’t really tested against top-level competition in the OTE setting.

While Thompson is widely considered the best prospect available at No. 4 if Wembyanama, Henderson, and Miller are off the board, his twin brother Ausar Thompson will be in the mix for Houston too. Ausar is the fifth-best prospect on ESPN’s big board and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report hears that both Thompsons are under “heavy consideration” at No. 4.

Kevin O’Connor wrote on Friday that he intends move Ausar ahead of Amen when his rankings at The Ringer are updated this week, arguing that Ausar has made more progress with his jump shot and has been the more effective defender of the two.

Of course, the Thompson twins aren’t the only players who will be on the Rockets’ radar at No. 4. Most recent mocks have Villanova wing Cam Whitmore coming off the board before Ausar, and local product Jarace Walker, a power forward who played for the Cougars, is considered a good bet to be drafted in the top half of the lottery.

What makes Houston’s choice all the more interesting is the fact that the club reportedly intends to push aggressively for a playoff spot in 2023/24, using its cap room to pursue veterans (including James Harden) who could help the team win right away. The Rockets don’t control their own 2024 first-round pick, so there’s little incentive for them to continue tanking (technically, the Rockets will keep their 2024 first-rounder if it’s in the top four, but even if they finish with the NBA’s worst record, there’s only about a 50/50 chance of that happening).

Houston could straddle the line between making a playoff push and continuing to build through the draft, using up to $60MM in cap room to sign or trade for veterans and still adding another young player to the core by using the No. 4 pick.

But if the franchise is serious about making a jump in the standings, that lottery pick would make an ideal trade chip in a deal for an impact player. They’d have to be realistic about the pick’s value – it likely wouldn’t bring back an All-Star caliber player unless it’s packaged with other strong assets – but it seems reasonable to assume it could be used to acquire a quality starter.

We want to know what direction you think the Rockets should go with that pick. Should they keep it or trade it? If they hang onto it, which prospect should they draft, assuming the consensus top three aren’t available? If they look to trade it, what kind of player can they realistically expect to land?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Poll: Which Team Will Win 2023 NBA Finals?

The 2023 NBA Finals, which tip off on Thursday night, will pit the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference against the No. 8 seed in the East, but the matchup may not be as lopsided as their places in the standings suggest.

Despite finishing the regular season as the West’s top team, the Nuggets weren’t considered a powerhouse entering the playoffs. They lost 10 of 17 games down the stretch in March and April and had only the sixth-best net rating in the NBA (+3.3) during the season. They also didn’t have a recent history of deep playoff runs, coming off a first-round elimination in 2022 and having made it beyond the second round just once in the Nikola Jokic era.

Denver has been the most dominant team of the postseason though, winning 12 of 15 games and posting a playoff-best +8.0 net rating during a run that saw them eliminate stars like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Anthony Edwards.

The Heat, meanwhile, battled injuries and inconsistency all season long, winning just 44 games and losing their first play-in game (to Atlanta) before completing a comeback victory over Chicago to claim the East’s final postseason berth. An early playoff exit appeared likely at that point, especially after sharpshooter Tyler Herro broke his hand in Game 1 of round one.

Instead, the Heat knocked off the title-favorite Bucks in five games, dispatched the Knicks in six games, and held off the No. 2 Celtics in a seven-game Eastern Conference Finals. Miami, whose +4.6 postseason net rating is second among all playoff clubs, has looked more like the team that came within one basket of making the NBA Finals in 2022 than the one that endured an up-and-down regular season.

The Heat may be a No. 8 seed – only the second in NBA history to make the Finals – but this is a battle-tested group that has significantly outperformed its regular season record and has plenty of playoff experience.

The Nuggets, who haven’t lost in Denver during the postseason and have looked like the NBA’s best team since the regular season ended, will have home-court advantage and enter the Finals as major favorites — BetOnline.ag has their odds to win the series at -405, with Miami listed as a +325 underdog.

Denver is also the popular pick among experts. John Hollinger of The Athletic laid out his reasoning for taking the Nuggets in six games, while a scout, a coach, and an executive who spoke anonymously to Sam Amick, Darnell Mayberry, and Josh Robbins of The Athletic all picked Denver in six too.

Over at ESPN, the Heat got a little more support, but 12 of 16 NBA reporters and analysts still chose the Nuggets to win the series, with only four – Bobby Marks, Israel Gutierrez, Nick DePaula, and Jorge Sedano – taking Miami.

The fact that the Nuggets are widely expected to come out on top will mean little to the Heat, who were considered even longer shots to beat Milwaukee or Boston. The Bucks were a -1200 betting favorite over Miami at the start of their series, while the Celtics were at -550.

With Game 1 set to tip off in a matter of hours, we want to get your predictions for this year’s NBA Finals. Will the Heat complete their improbable run and become the first No. 8 seed in league history to win a championship, or will Jokic lead the Nuggets to their first ever title?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!

Poll: Pistons’ Lottery Pick

The biggest loser during the draft lottery was the Pistons. After finishing with the worst record, they entered the lottery at the top of the list. They slid all the way down to the No. 5 spot after the lottery was conducted.

The Pistons under general manager Troy Weaver are at a crossroads. The roster has been totally revamped since Weaver, who is never hesitant to wheel and deal, took over. There are lots of young players dotting the roster but it’s uncertain just how well those pieces fit.

Detroit should be significantly better next season just based on the fact it will have 2021 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham back in action. Cunningham missed virtually the entire season due to shin surgery.

The Pistons’ 2022 lottery picks, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, showed plenty of promise in their rookie campaign. Certainly, the team is excited by the prospect of Ivey and Cunningham playing together a full season with 2020 lottery pick Killian Hayes backing them up.

Detroit acquired Marvin Bagley and James Wiseman – No. 2 overall picks who were busts with their original teams – over the past two seasons. The Pistons also have two highly valued veterans in Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks.

The franchise has to show major improvement next season to justify all the years of rebuilding. With the Pistons owing the Knicks a first-rounder, this could be the last time Detroit has a lottery pick in the near future.

There are a number of prospects to choose from at the No. 5 pick. Brandon Miller could theoretically slide down that far, though it’s a long shot. More likely, wings such as Cam Whitmore, Ausar Thompson and Anthony Black will be in play at that spot.

Weaver could shift gears and try to trade down in – or even out of – the first round for veteran help to give the Pistons a fighting chance to at least make the play-in tournament next season.

So what should the Pistons do with their first-rounder? Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to weigh in!

Poll: Will Celtics Complete Eastern Finals Comeback?

An oft-repeated statistic made the rounds in the NBA world last weekend when the Lakers and Celtics fell behind by a 3-0 margin in their respective conference finals — NBA teams who lost the first three games of a best-of-seven series had a record of 0-149.

The Lakers became the 150th consecutive team to lose a series after dropping the first three games, and it looked heading into Game 4 in Miami on Tuesday like the Celtics would become the 151st, having shown few signs in their first three games against the Heat that they were capable of a history-making comeback.

But a big third quarter and an excellent night from Jayson Tatum, who had a game-high 33 points, fueled a road victory for the Celtics in Game 4. Back in Boston for Game 5 on Thursday, the C’s took a big lead early in the game with a 14-0 first quarter run and never surrendered that lead, forcing a Game 6 in Miami on Saturday.

The Heat still have the upper hand in the series, with a 3-2 lead and a home game on tap, but suddenly the idea of a Celtics comeback doesn’t seem outlandish. Miami’s roster is as banged up as it’s been at any point in the postseason, with Gabe Vincent (ankle) joining Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo on the inactive list for Game 5, leaving the club with little depth in its backcourt.

Heat star Jimmy Butler, who averaged 31.1 PPG on 51.8% shooting in his first 12 playoff contests this spring, has come down to earth a little in his last three games vs. Boston, with those averages dipping to 19.7 PPG and 43.2% shooting (including just 1-of-7 on three-pointers).

According to BetOnline.ag, the Heat are still the betting favorites to make the NBA Finals, but their odds are down to -145 (the Celtics are +125 underdog). And Boston is considered the better bet to win Game 6, having been listed as 2.5-point favorites.

Over the course of NBA history, teams in Boston’s position are 0-for-150, but if ever that streak is going to be broken, it could be in circumstances like these ones. Miami was a play-in team that has exceeded all expectations but is dealing with a handful of injuries and having its depth tested. The Celtics were a dominant regular season team, posting the NBA’s best net rating (+6.7) and second-best record (57-25).

We want to know what you think. Will the Celtics actually complete this improbable comeback or will their efforts hit a wall in Game 6 or 7?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to weigh in with your predictions for the rest of the Eastern Conference Finals!

Poll: Who Should Hornets Draft With No. 2 Pick?

They’ll miss out on generational prospect Victor Wembanyama, but the Hornets still had a great night on Tuesday at the draft lottery, moving up from No. 4 in the pre-lottery standings to nab the No. 2 overall pick.

Given that Wembanyama is a lock to be drafted first overall, Charlotte can prepare for draft knowing that every other player in this year’s class will be available after San Antonio makes its selection. There shouldn’t be any surprises for the Hornets, so assuming they keep their pick, it’s simply a matter of deciding which non-Wembanyama prospect they like the best.

That list figures to start with two players: G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson and Alabama wing Brandon Miller.

When the 2022/23 season began, Henderson was widely considered a close runner-up to Wembanyama among this year’s top prospects — the two players were in a tier of their own, with Henderson viewed as a prospect who would be a worthy No. 1 overall pick in most years. He’s an explosive guard with excellent court vision who can be a primary play-maker on offense and shows plenty of promise as a backcourt defender.

However, Henderson had an up-and-down season with the Ignite, struggling with his shot in 19 regular season G League games — he made just 42.9% of his attempts from the field, including 27.5% of his three-pointers. Throw in the fact that the Hornets’ incumbent franchise player – LaMelo Ball – is a lead guard and you could make the case that Henderson might not be the best match for Charlotte.

If they’re not sold on Henderson, the Hornets’ top choice may be Miller, whose stock rose substantially over the course of the NCAA season. When Jonathan Givony of ESPN published a mock draft last October, Miller was the No. 19 pick, but the 6’9″ forward had a huge year for the Crimson Tide, averaging 18.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 2.1 APG while making 38.4% of his 7.5 three-point attempts per game.

In Givony’s most recent mock draft, he has Miller going to the Hornets at No. 2, writing that the 20-year-old’s ability to shoot, facilitate, and defend multiple positions makes him the “archetypal player every NBA team is currently searching for.”

While Miller is probably the better positional fit for Charlotte, his long-term ceiling may fall short of Henderson’s, and any franchise that drafts him will want to learn all it can about his character off the court. Miller was involved in a troubling story in Tuscaloosa over the winter, having brought former Alabama teammate Darius Miles the gun that was used in the killing of Jamea Jonae Harris.

Miller, who insisted that he didn’t know the gun was in the car, wasn’t charged with a crime and was described as a cooperative witness in the case. So while NBA executives will have plenty of questions for the Alabama wing about the incident, there has been a sense that it won’t hurt his draft stock.

“I don’t believe there will be any impact unless he lies in his interviews,” one executive recently told David Aldridge of The Athletic. “Integrity is more relevant than criminal friends; one we can fix, the other, we can’t.”

After Henderson and Miller, the consensus among draft experts is that there’s drop-off before the next tier of prospects, but the Hornets will certainly do their homework on a group that includes Overtime Elite twins Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson, Villanova wing Cam Whitmore, Houston forward Jarace Walker, and Arkansas guard Anthony Black, among others.

Trading the pick is also an option for the Hornets, but Charlotte isn’t believed to leaning toward an aggressive win-now approach this offseason in the same way that the two teams drafting behind them (Portland at No. 3 and Houston at No. 4) are. I can imagine scenarios in which the Hornets trade down from No. 2 to No. 3, but it’s hard to envision them moving out of the top three entirely.

We want to know what you think. If we assume the Hornets keep their pick at No. 2 and Wembanyama is off the board, which player should they draft? Do you think there’s a different between the player they should draft and the one they will select? Would you seriously consider anyone besides Henderson and Miller? Should Charlotte seriously consider trading the pick?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to weigh in!

Poll: Which Team Will Win Eastern Conference Finals?

For the second season in a row and the third time in the last four years, the Celtics and the Heat will face one another in the Eastern Conference Finals, battling for the right to play in the NBA Finals. The series will tip off on Wednesday night in Boston.

[RELATED: Which team will win Western Conference Finals?]

The odds of the Heat making it back to the Eastern Finals appeared slim when the postseason began. After finishing the regular season seventh in the conference, Miami needed two play-in games to secure its playoff berth, then saw one of its top scorers – sharpshooter Tyler Herro – break his hand during the first half of Game 1 against the top-seeded Bucks.

Despite injuries to Herro and reserve guard Victor Oladipo, as well as the history of futility for No. 8 seeds in the NBA playoffs, the Heat pulled off an impressive five-game upset of Milwaukee, then defeated the No. 5 Knicks in the second round to advance to the third round.

Jimmy Butler, who has been the Heat’s leading scorer in every single game he has played during the playoffs (he missed Game 2 of the Knicks series due to an ankle sprain), has been the difference-maker for the franchise. After averaging 22.9 points per game during the season, “Playoff Jimmy” has bumped that number to 31.1 PPG in the postseason, chipping in 6.6 RPG, 5.4 APG, and 1.7 SPG with an impressive .527/.361/.792 shooting line.

Butler and Bam Adebayo, who is anchoring the defense and providing secondary scoring, have been buoyed by a supporting cast featuring Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, Caleb Martin, and a resurgent Kyle Lowry, leading the Heat to an improbably deep run. Miami will be looking to become the first No. 8 seed in NBA history to win a title — if they can get past Boston, the Heat will become just the second eighth seed in league history to even make the NBA Finals, joining the 1999 Knicks.

To advance to the Finals though, the Heat will have to defeat a Celtics team that held the East’s top seed for much of the season and ultimately ended up No. 2 with 57 wins.

Boston had a league-best +6.7 net rating during the regular season, posting the NBA’s second-best offensive rating (117.3) and finishing second in defensive rating (110.6) too. The offense has been even better (118.1) during the postseason and the defense (111.0) has shown no sign of slipping.

This is a talented, well-rounded team led by a pair of star wings – Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown – and featuring strong defenders all over the court, including guards Marcus Smart and Derrick White and big men Robert Williams and Al Horford.

While Miami should have the head coaching advantage in the series, which pits long-tenured Heat coach Erik Spoelstra against Celtics first-timer Joe Mazzulla, there’s little question that Boston has the talent edge on the court. Currently, BetOnline.ag lists the Celtics as significant betting favorites — Boston is -550 to advance to the NBA Finals, while the Heat are +430 underdogs.

But the Heat have defied the odds to even make it this far. Can they do it again? We want to know what you think. Which team will represent the East in this year’s NBA Finals?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Poll: Who Will Win Game 7 Of Celtics/Sixers?

For just the second time this spring and the first time in the conference semifinals, we’re getting a Game 7.

The Celtics and Sixers will square off on Sunday afternoon for the right to face Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s the first Game 7 on the East’s side of the playoff bracket — the Kings and Warriors battled to seven games in the first round in the West.

It has been a back-and-forth series between Boston and Philadelphia, with the Sixers unexpectedly stealing Game 1 in Boston despite missing MVP center Joel Embiid. The Celtics responded by claiming the next two games to take a 2-1 lead, but Philadelphia fought back to go up 3-2 before dropping Game 6 at home.

As the higher seed and the home team, the Celtics are 6.5-point favorites on Sunday, according to BetOnline.ag. But the fact that the game will be played in Boston offers no guarantees for the C’s. The home team in the series has gone just 2-4 so far, with each club losing multiple games in its own arena.

While the Sixers probably know what they can expect from Embiid, who has averaged 30.8 PPG and 10.8 RPG in his last four appearances after a shaky first game back from a knee injury, what they get from the big man’s co-star may go a long way toward determining whether they can pull off the upset win in Game 7. James Harden has put up 34.7 PPG on 60.7% shooting in Philadelphia’s three victories over Boston, but has averaged just 13.7 PPG and made 20.5% of his shots from the floor in the team’s three losses.

The Celtics, meanwhile, got a boost in Game 6 when they inserted center Robert Williams into their starting lineup for the first time in the series. Williams had 10 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks in one of his best games of the postseason. The Celtics, who won the game by nine points, outscored Philadelphia by 18 points during Williams’ 28 minutes. It’s probably safe to assume he’ll start again on Sunday.

Boston will also be hoping to see the version of Jayson Tatum who showed up during the final few minutes of Thursday’s game, helping the team overcome a late deficit and secure the victory. With the Celtics down by two points with under five minutes to play, Tatum made four of his final seven shots, all three-pointers, after having hit just 1-of-14 field goal attempts up until that point.

The Celtics were the deeper, more well-rounded team during the regular season and have shown off that depth in the postseason, but the Sixers have proven in the playoffs that they’re capable of winning any game when Embiid, Harden, and Tyrese Maxey – who has averaged 23.3 PPG in Philadelphia’s victories – are firing on all cylinders.

We want to know what you think. Who are you picking to win Game 7 this afternoon?

Poll: Which Team Will Win Western Conference Finals?

The 2023 Western Conference Finals will feature two teams that took remarkably different paths to get there.

The Nuggets claimed the No. 1 seed in the West on December 20 and never relinquished it, winning a conference-best 53 games despite essentially going on cruise control down the stretch, losing 10 of their last 17 contests. Since the playoffs began, no team has posted a better offensive rating (118.7) or net rating (+8.6) than the Nuggets, who have yet to lose at home in the postseason.

The Lakers, of course, got off to a disastrous start in 2022/23, losing 10 of the first 12 games on their regular season schedule. While things got better from there, especially once Los Angeles revamped its roster at the trade deadline, the team still occupied the No. 13 spot in the Western standings as late as February 26, which was also the day that LeBron James went down with a foot injury that cost him the next 13 games.

The Lakers persevered, finishing the regular season on a hot streak and claiming the No. 7 seed in the West before knocking off the No. 2 Grizzlies and the defending champion Warriors. Like Denver, L.A. hasn’t lost at home so far in the postseason, but the Lakers are winning games a little differently — they only rank ninth among playoff teams in offense, but their 106.5 postseason defensive rating is the NBA’s best.

The Nuggets will enter the Western Finals as slight betting favorites (-143, per BetOnline.ag), and it’s not hard to see why.

Denver is led by perennial MVP candidate Nikola Jokic, who is coming off a series in which he averaged an outrageous 34.5 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 10.3 assists per game. Jamal Murray, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, is back in peak form, putting up 25.9 PPG and 6.5 APG on .461/.395/.915 shooting so far in the playoffs. And perhaps most importantly, the Nuggets seem to have the right complementary pieces surrounding their stars, including versatile forward Aaron Gordon, three-and-D wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and jack-of-all-trades Bruce Brown.

Still, there are plenty of believers in a Lakers squad that supplemented James and Anthony Davis by swapping out Russell Westbrook in February for valuable role players like D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Malik Beasley. With James and Davis healthy entering the series and holding the edge on the Nuggets’ stars in terms of championship experience, L.A. is only a +123 underdog, per BetOnline.ag.

We want to know what you think. Which team do you expect to win the series and represent the West in the NBA Finals? Should we count on a six- or seven-game series or will it be over in a hurry?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Poll: Who Should Win 2022/23 NBA Awards?

The NBA announced the 2022/23 finalists for its seven major awards on Friday, revealing the top three vote-getters for Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man of the Year, Coach of the Year, and the newly added Clutch Player of the Year.

Some of these awards have felt like foregone conclusions for a while, but some results could be genuine surprises when they’re revealed beginning this week.

Today though, we’re not focusing on which players will win the awards, but the ones you believe should win them. Select your winners for this year’s major NBA awards in the seven polls below, then head to the comment section to weigh in with your thoughts.

Our polls only include the three finalists in each category, but if you think someone else deserves to win one of these awards, be sure to use the comment section to “write in” that pick and explain your reasoning.

Poll: Western Conference’s First Round Playoff Series

After calling for your predictions for the four first round series in the Eastern Conference earlier in the day, we’re pivoting to the West this afternoon.

Here are the four first round series in the Western Conference:

Denver Nuggets (1) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (8)

Unlike in the East, where there are a handful of overwhelming favorites at the top of the conference, the Western Conference field appears more wide open as the playoffs begin. The Nuggets are heavily favored in this series, but their betting line (-550, per BetOnline.ag) isn’t anywhere close to the -1200 and -1300 lines we were seeing in the East.

As good as the Nuggets were this season, they weren’t playing their best basketball down the stretch, having lost five of their last seven games and 10 of their last 17 entering the postseason. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, had a disappointing year, but have a lot of high-end talent on their roster, including three-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns, three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, and ascendant All-Star Anthony Edwards.

A Timberwolves team playing to its full potential could give Denver trouble, but we haven’t seen that often this season. It would be a major upset if Tim Connelly‘s new team can get past his old one.

Memphis Grizzlies (2) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (7)

After incorporating their trade-deadline acquisitions on February 11, the Lakers went 18-8 to close the regular season, which would translate to a 57-win pace over 82 games.

Throw in the fact that LeBron James and Anthony Davis are relatively healthy and two key members of the Grizzlies‘ frontcourt (Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke) aren’t, and it’s easy to understand why Memphis is only a slight favorite (-142) over Los Angeles (+122) in this series.

Still, the Grizzlies had the best net rating (+4.0) in the West this season and history is working in their favor — as John Hollinger of The Athletic writes, the NBA’s No. 7 and No. 8 playoff seeds have lost 95 of 100 first round series in the last 25 years. Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and company won’t be intimidated by the Lakers’ star power.

Sacramento Kings (3) vs. Golden State Warriors (6)

The Kings‘ reward for snapping a 16-season playoff drought is a first-round matchup against the defending champions, who have won titles in four of the last eight years.

The Warriors‘ impressive track record in the postseason has made them betting favorites (-265) in this series over Sacramento (+225). Golden State has had an up-and-down year, but has a huge experience edge in this matchup and seemed to be hitting its stride at the right time in the season’s final weeks. With Andrew Wiggins set to be available for Game 1, the roster is at full strength and will present a tough challenge for the higher-seeded Kings.

Still, the Kings have been exceeding expectations all season long, and their home crowd should be whipped into a frenzy for the first NBA playoff basketball in Sacramento since 2006. This has a chance to be a very fun series.

Phoenix Suns (4) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (5)

The key for both of these star-studded rosters is staying healthy. Suns forward Kevin Durant and guard Chris Paul have battled multiple injuries over the years, including this season, as have Clippers forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Suns have the health advantage entering this series, with George considered unlikely to play vs. Phoenix as he recovers from a sprained knee.

Even if PG13 can return to action before the series ends, the Clippers will be in tough against a Phoenix team that has looked incredibly dangerous with Durant on the court. The former MVP has only played in eight games for the Suns since being acquired at the trade deadline, but they’ve won all eight, outscoring opponents by a total of 88 points in those contests.

The Suns are considered strong betting favorites, with a -465 line at BetOnline.ag.