Phoenix Suns: 3 Most Important Matchups vs Los Angeles Clippers

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
2 of 4
Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul
Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Phoenix Suns need Chris Paul to outplay Reggie Jackson

It feels almost poetic that Chris Paul now stands between the Clippers and a trip to the NBA Finals after spending so many years trying to get them there himself. Although Paul appears likely to miss Game 1 after returning a positive COVID-19 test, once he rejoins the team, his matchup against the red hot Reggie Jackson feels likely to dictate how the series moves forward.

With his prior shoulder injury at last looking healed up, Paul absolutely killed the Nuggets during every game last round. But most notably, Paul turned things up during the fourth quarter, where he averaged 10.8 points, the most by any player during the Conference Semifinals.

With .509/.444/.910 shooting splits during the playoffs as well, Paul’s game essentially shows no flaws. He too averages 8.7 assists per game, the second most amongst players still active this postseason, just behind Trae Young.

But very few players look more dangerous right now than Jackson. Having elevated his scoring by 5.9 points per game from the regular season, Jackson currently averages 16.6 points per contest during these playoffs. Additionally, his percentages look almost identical to Paul’s, with .503/.435/.923 shooting splits himself.

As far as the “top NBA point guard” conversation goes, Paul without a doubt still remains several tiers above Jackson, but with Jackson’s recent upsurge, the similarities between each player’s production cannot go ignored. The only thing seeming to seperate the two from each other comes at the defensive end, something that Paul would be wise to exploit.

Boasting a top-15 defensive ranking at 102.5 so far this postseason, Paul seems far more equipped to defend Jackson than the other way around. Jackson however ranks 84, earning a 118.1 rating.

With the two likely guarding each other, it feels almost certain that Paul’s numbers will inflate, while Jackson’s dip off a bit. This poises to help the Suns substantially especially if Leonard continues to miss games, as Jackson scores 21.4 percent of his team’s points and owns a 20.9 usage percentage, both the second highest marks for the Clippers with Leonard excluded.