Phoenix Suns hope to shine against Los Angeles Clippers in opening round of NBA playoffs

Series begins April 16 at Footprint Center


Michael Tipton (Flickr)

The Suns open the playoffs on Sunday against the Clippers.

Chance LeBlanc, Reporter

The quest to bring the first NBA championship to the Valley of the Sun begins again this Sunday.

The Suns will open the first round of the Western Conference NBA playoffs at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, as they play host to a familiar foe, the Los Angeles Clippers.

After an up and down 82 game regular season, the Suns earned the No. 4 seed, finishing with a 45-37 record.

The Clippers finished with a 44-38 record and the No. 5 seed.

This will be the second time in three years that the two teams have faced each other in the postseason.

In 2021, the Suns beat the Clippers 4-2 in the Western Conference Finals and advanced to the NBA Finals.

It is a quick turnaround for both teams.  The Suns and Clippers met in the regular-season finale on April 9, with L.A. winning 119-114.

During the regular season the series was split 2-2.

Following the blockbuster trade deadline acquisition of Kevin Durant from Brooklyn, championship expectations could not be higher for the Suns as they look to move on from last year’s disappointing game seven semifinal loss to Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.

This opening round series features a multitude of star players from Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Russell Westbrook on the Clippers side — to Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Devin Booker for the Suns.  Those six players have a combined 50 all-star appearances.

The Clippers will have to start the series without eight-time All Star Paul George (sprained right knee) who has been sidelined since March 21.

“Paul George is expected to be sidelined to begin the first-round playoff series against the Suns, but is making some tangible progress from his March 21 injury,” tweeted Shams Charania, NBA reporter for The Athletic.

As for the Suns, four of the five starters sat out of the last two regular-season games for rest, and to not risk any possible injuries.

Cameron Payne (back) will reportedly not play in Sunday’s first game and Bismack Biyombo (knee) is listed as questionable.  Both players are key bench pieces who Phoenix will likely need healthy for a deep playoff run.

Head Coach Monty Williams discussed the familiarity Phoenix has with the Clippers during the post-game press conference following the team’s Easter Sunday loss.

“We understand how they play, they look for matchups, and you have to be able to have a great shift defense against those matchups,” Williams told reporters.  “If we can guard in a one-on-one environment, which is what they do a lot of, and take away their threes…we think we can be productive against any team.”

Phoenix will host the first two games of the series at Footprint Center.  Game one tips off Sunday, April 16, at 5 p.m. MST and game two is scheduled for Tuesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. MST.