Western Conference Finals Preview
We are down to two teams for the Western Conference. The Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers will meet today to begin the Western Conference Finals. The Phoenix Suns are making the first WCF appearance since 2010. The Los Angeles Clippers are making their first ever WCF appearance in franchise history.
The Road to the WCF
The Phoenix Suns was the 2nd seed in the West finishing with a record of 51-21 in the regular season.
Opening Round: Their opening round opponent was the defending champs, the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James. The Suns took Game 1 in Phoenix, but the Lakers snatch homecourt from the Suns by winning Game 2 to even the series. In Game 2 , Suns Point Guard, Chris Paul played 23 minutes in which he suffered a shoulder injury. With CP3 only playing 2 1/2 minutes in Game 3, the Lakers took Game 3 at Staples Center in LA, but the Suns responded as Paul went for 18 points and nine assists with the series being tied at 2 heading back to The Valley. In Game 4, a key injury to the champs happens, Forward, Anthony Davis went down to a groin injury. Without AD for the Lakers, the Suns went on to dismantle the defending champs in Phoenix to take the 3-2 lead and then went back to Staples Center in LA and took the champs out for good by winning Game 6 and the series 4-2.
West Semis: In the Western Conference Semifinals, it was a matchup with the MVP, Nikola Jokic and the 3rd-seed, Denver Nuggets. A series that one-sided in very surprisingly fashion. The Suns dominated the Nuggets in all four games as they went on to sweep last season's Western Conference Finals team.
Last season's Western Conference Finals matchup, both taking out by the Phoenix Suns. Now the Suns after a whole weeks of rest will play Game 1 this afternoon in The Desert.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers had another good regular season, finishing 4th in the West with a record of 47-25.
Opening Round: The opening round matchup for the Clippers was a familiar one and the most intriguing series to open the playoffs. It was a matchup with the Dallas Mavericks and Luka Doncic once again. A series where homecourt did not matter as history was made in this series. This was first time in the playoffs that the roads teams won the first six games of a playoff series. The Mavs took Games 1 and 2 in LA. The Clippers came back winning Games 3 and 4 in Dallas. Luka Doncic and Tim Hardway Jr. led the Mavs back to Staples Center to win Game 5 and the Kawhi Leonard responded by leading the Clippers in Dallas to win Game 6. In Game 7, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Marcus Morris Sr. led the Clippers to the only home win in this series and ousting Luka and the Mavs for a second consecutive year.
West Semis: After getting passed the Mavs, it was matchup with the best team in the NBA, the Utah Jazz and Donovan Mitchell. The Jazz continued their stellar play by defending homecourt winning Game 1 and 2 in Salt Lake City. The Clippers, however, did the same thing in defending their homecourt in Game 3 and 4. Very contrast from the Mavericks series. Unfortunately, winning Game 4 came at a cost as Kawhi Leonard suffered a knee injury that will keep him out for the rest of the series. Heading to Salt Lake City for Game 5 and without their Superstar Leonard the others stepped up for the Clippers. After the Jazz shot over 70% in the first half, the lead was only five at half in Game 5. PG13, Morris Sr., and Reggie Jackson all scored over 20 points to lead the surprising win in Utah for the 3-2 lead. In Game 6, a Mann came alive for the Clippers. Being down 25 points in the third quarter, the Clippers did not mail in it for Game 7 in Utah. Terance Mann led a furious comeback with 39 points, George added 28 points , nine rebounds, and seven assists. Reggie Jackson contributed 27 points and 10 assists as the Clippers scored 81 points in the second half as the Clippers took out the best team in the NBA without their leader Kawhi Leonard.
The Los Angeles Clippers are playing in the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
West Finals Matchup
Absolutely for the Clippers the lost of Leonard is huge because he is one of the best two-way players in the league and a two-time NBA Finals MVP. At the same time, the Suns have a concern of their own as Chris Paul tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and is in the health and safety protocol where he can miss the first three games of this series depend on how fast he can get out of the protocol. How will the Suns adjust without CP3 for Game 1 for sure is the question. We seen the Clippers without Leonard and it's been very impressive.
Matchups to Watch
Paul George vs. Devin Booker
Tyrone Lue vs. Morty Williams
Marcus Morris Sr./Reggie Jackson vs. Mikal Bridges/Jae Crowder
Kawhi Leonard's Health vs. Chris Paul's Health