For the seventh straight year the Pacific division will be represented in the Western Conference Finals. However, usual suspects the Lakers and Warriors will be watching from home. Instead, the Los Angeles Clippers will be making their first ever appearance in a Conference Finals and will be joined by the Phoenix Suns who are making their first appearance since 2010. Both franchises have gone through their share of heartbreak. Regardless of the outcome, one franchise will be making a Finals appearance while the other will add another notch to the belt in terms of playoff failures. Join me as I take a deeper look into the matchups, injury reports and potential for some beef in this 2021 West Finals.
- 51-21, 2nd in the Western Conference
- Round 1: 4-2 over the 7 seed Los Angeles Lakers
- Round 2: 4-0 sweep over the 3 seed Denver Nuggets
- All-Stars: Chris Paul, Devin Booker
Los Angeles Clippers
- 47-24, 4th in the Western Conference
- Round 1: 4-3 over the 7 seed Dallas Mavericks
- Round 2: 4-2 over the 1 seed Utah Jazz
- All-Stars: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George
- January 3, 2021 – Clippers won 112-107
- April 8, 2021 – Clippers won 113-103
- April 28, 2021 – Suns won 109-101
- Overall: Clippers won season series 2-1
Regular Season Takeaways
I don’t believe either of these teams should be judged on their regular season play heading into this matchup. The Suns have been good all year and the Clippers obviously held a bit back in the regular season based on their play in these playoffs. The only potential takeaway from the Suns/Clippers season series would be the potential for drama. Devin Booker and Paul George have got into it in the past and they figure to be the most prominent players in the series if injuries keep out Kawhi and Chris Paul. I expect George to take on the assignment of guarding Devin Booker at times and I’m 100% in for whatever beef those two have with each other.
Speaking of injuries, this is a series that could be marred by who isn’t on the floor rather than who is. Both teams are missing critical pieces. Although, as you’ll see below, one may be worse than the other with Chris Paul potentially being able to come back sooner than Kawhi.
- Chris Paul: Via Basketball Reference: “Paul has entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic”
- Serge Ibaka: Via Basketball Reference: Out For Season (Back) – The Clippers announced Serge Ibaka underwent season ending back surgery.
- Kawhi Leonard: Via Basketball Reference: Out (Knee) – Leonard is listed as OUT for Friday’s (Jun. 18) game.