Preview: Los Angeles Clippers (41-20) at Phoenix Suns (35-24)


Time: 7 p.m. MST

TV: FSAZ

Suns

Suns

Clippers

Clippers

This is where it gets interesting for the Phoenix Suns. Over the next seven days, the Suns will play four tough games against three opponents currently sitting above them in the Western Conference standings. After hosting the Clippers and Thunder, the Suns will hit the road to face Golden State for the fourth and final time this year before heading to the Staples Center to play the Clippers. For as great as Phoenix has been this season, one win from those four games seems like the best possible outcome. With Memphis only one game back and facing three much less daunting opponents this week, the Suns could easily find themselves in ninth place next Tuesday for the first time in several months.

But falling out of a playoff spot in the short term does not doom the Suns in the long-term. After this brutal four-game stretch, the Suns will have an 11-game run in which only four of their opponents are .500 or better. And none of those are Western playoff teams. So no matter what happens over the next week, the Suns will certainly be able to improve their standing before their brutal close to the season in April.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, the Suns still have a game to play against the Clippers, a team they dominated on the road in their first meeting this year. For more on this matchup, let’s ask three preview questions.

The first meeting was a quintessential 2013-14 Suns victory. Can they repeat that performance?

There are three things the Suns have done all season to dominate opponents: get out in transition, shoot well from downtown, and force turnovers. Back in December, Phoenix caught the Clips completely by surprise with all three of these tactics. The Suns scored 18 fast break points, forced LA into 20 turnovers, and hit 12-of-31 from downtown. It’s a simple formula that has brought Phoenix 35 wins already this year. But Chris Paul, Doc Rivers, and the rest of the Clippers have seen this show already. This time they’ll know what to expect. Phoenix has to stick to its game plan, but must also be prepared when the Clippers try to take away their strengths. A victory tonight will require as much mental effort as physical because Phoenix may have to shift its approach as the game goes on.

Can the Suns second unit take advantage?

Jamal Crawford is listed as “likely to miss” tonight’s game, so that means the Clippers will have to rely on former Sun Jared Dudley and new additions Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Hedo Turkoglu to carry the load when the starters are out. Ish Smith, Leandro Barbosa, and the Morris twins should be able to run circles around those guys. They will each have to be solid contributors if Phoenix wants to keep pace with one of the hottest teams in the West.

Who’s got Blake?

Blake Griffin has been an absolute monster for the last month. In February he averaged 30 points and 10 boards. It was one of if not the best month of his career. Blake is a tall task defensively for any team, but even more so for the Suns who are shallow in the front court. The task of defending Griffin will likely fall to Channing Frye and Markieff Morris. The key for both will be to avoid foul trouble. For as instinctive as it is to foul Blake to prevent a thunderous dunk, keeping Frye on the floor to be a shooter and Morris on the floor to be a bench scorer are far more crucial to Phoenix’s success than keeping Blake under 30. The Suns have won countless games this year when the other team’s best player went off. So long as Phoenix can keep the rest of the Clippers in relative check, they should have an excellent shot at victory.

Tags: Los Angeles Clippers Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Preview

  • Foreveris2long

    Well said Ryan. I was at the game in LA where the Suns left the Clipper fans in a state of shock. They claimed they had never seen their CPIII led team get beat like that at home and certainly not since Doc Rivers became the Captain of the ship.

    You can bet Doc wants to deliver a msg and if possible help knock the Suns out of the playoff race as the Suns, when healthy with two good point guards and a 3rd reliable sub can foreseeably be a foe the Clippers would rather not face in April. Then again if we do not get tougher defensively in the paint, no is going to fear us in April.

    Should be a fun game or at least I hope so as the Doc led Clips will have fire in their eyes tonight for a host of reasons.

  • phxfaninla

    We get to see how bad Turkoglu is playing still and how jd is still playing like a junkyard dogg

  • ellensburgbballfan

    If we dont fix the holes on defense that have been wide open lately, its not gonna matter how many points we score

    We gotta figure that out if the team wants to go ahead to the playoffs and have more than 2 home games

  • Solarion

    Lob city unless we get some bodies to crash the boards, protect the rim and box out.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Suns catch a break with Crawford being out.

  • TI

    JJ Reddick out too

  • sunsn7

    L E T S

    G O

    S U N S!

  • sunsn7

    Alex Len! :)

    Get ‘em kid!

  • BCrayZ

    MUST start & ALSO finish with LB. Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • sunsn7

    Let the Clippers back in the gamw, gut check time

  • sunsn7

    Time for a pre 4th qtr toke break n halfway slushy Heineken.

    Great time of year, especially when our Suns are playing with somethingon the line ;)

  • sunsn7

    Dragic demanding his respect! Playing with a controlled, proverbial “chip on the shoulder” and gotta be proud to see Dragic continue to learn, grow, and flourish!

    Gotta say Steve Nash must look on like a proud big brother..good to see Dragic etch his own niche in Suns pg lore.

  • sunsn7

    Wow Doc Rivers MVP of this game

  • sunsn7

    …along with the INEPT Suns defense.

    This squad needs to get that CHUCK & DUCK mentality un-f**ked very soon…Coaching staff!

  • sunsn7

    Did I mention Doc Rivers is the man? He balances being a players coach and ….WHAT?

    11-0 run??
    :D

  • sunsn7

    S U N S B U R S T

  • sunsn7

    Just got to say I like Randolph. He dont get respect from refs but I see solid court awareness for a big

  • sunsn7

    Chalk it up to a valuable learning experience for these YOUNG SUNS.

    Consistency and Intensity for ALL four quarters.

    Suns’ll get it

  • sunsn7

    Goran Dragic 14 points, 9 ast, 5-14 fga, 2 to’s

    Chris Paul 14 points, 9 ast, 4-14 fga, 5 to’s

    STAT THAT MATTERS:
    CLIPPERS WIN

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