Keys to Game: How Suns Defeat Clippers

The Suns must win tonight's game - here's how.
Apr 7, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA;  Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) as he shoots against New
Apr 7, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) as he shoots against New / Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns are in decent position at 46-32.

That decent position could turn into a nightmare in a matter of days.

Both statements can be simultaneously true.

The Suns are wrapping up the final week of the regular season solely against Western Conference teams that are currently inside the top eight of the standings - and it begins tonight with the Los Angeles Clippers - who hold the number 4 seed out West.

Phoenix is currently tied with the New Orleans Pelicans in the West's sixth spot, but they need to stay afloat - no questions asked - as New Orleans prepares to face the tanking Portland Trail Blazers tonight.

The Clippers have proven to be a difficult matchup for the Suns, even in the absence of star players, but the Suns have found ways to crack the code and overcome matchup deficiencies over the years.

What can they do tonight to secure a victory over this streaking squad?

There are three clear-cut answers:

Contain Norm Powell

Norman Powell has been a frequent problem for the Suns in recent seasons - going back to his days in Portland.

Powell has averaged 22 PPG in the last 5 regular season games against the Suns, and notably was the main player in making the playoff matchup last season more competitive.

Powell will presumably be a second-wheel to Paul George tonight with Kawhi Leonard's absence as well as James Harden potentially sitting out as a late addition to the injury report with a foot injury.

The Suns and head coach Frank Vogel need to do everything in their power to contain him.

Go Small-Ball Route

Pelicans' head coach Willie Green possibly made the game-winning decision on Sunday afternoon by deciding to sit Jonas Valanciunas and go with a small-ball lineup for the last 44 minutes of the game.

Clippers' head man Tyronn Lue may very well opt to go with the same strategy - especially being sans Leonard.

This might be the perfect opportunity for coach Vogel to experiment more with a five-out lineup - perhaps Beal-Booker-Allen-Gordon-Durant. Maybe even opting to insert Royce O'Neale or Bol Bol into lineups.

This game is a perfect opportunity to try something new and see if it can have any staying power come playoff time, which is obviously looming for Phoenix in just under two weeks.

Continue High Three-Point Volume

The Suns are still fairly inconsistent in getting up three-point shots, as evidenced by the 26 attempts against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

The Suns did a quality job of getting up a good volume on Sunday, to the point of attempting 39 shots from behind the arc. The difference in the outcome of the game was New Orleans hitting just 2 more looks on the same volume.

The Suns should be looking to be in stellar shape tonight if they are able to get up 40 looks from three-point range at the end of the night.

Kevin Hicks