Los Angeles Clippers guard Russell Westbrook backs down Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, left, during the second half of Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Sunday, April 16, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Suns Look to Even Series Against Clippers

The Phoenix Suns face the Los Angeles Clippers in game two in the first round of the NBA Playoffs Tuesday night, looking to even up the series at one game apiece.

Game One Recap

Los Angeles upset the Suns on Sunday night, winning game one 115-110. It was the Suns’ first loss with Kevin Durant, who was one rebound shy of a triple double in game one. Durant grabbed nine boards, scored 27 points and dished out 11 assists in the loss. Kawhi Leonard led both teams in scoring with 38, but perhaps the biggest takeaway was the defensive effort from Russell Westbrook.

Despite shooting 3-19 from the field, Westbrook showed up on the defensive end of the floor. Westbrook totaled two steals and three blocks, including a game-sealing block on Devin Booker with 12 seconds left.

Game Two Preview

The Suns will be looking for a stronger performance from its bench in game two. Phoenix’s bench scored just 10 points in game one, a poor outing compared to the 34 points that the Clippers got from its reserves. Higher scoring from players coming off the bench will give the Suns a better chance in evening up the series. Postgame, Durant said in order for the bench to be more productive in the remainder of the series, they need to “be aggressive” and “make quick decisions.”

The Suns will also be searching for ways to get Durant more involved down the stretch. In game one, he took only one shot in the final six minutes of play. Head coach Monty Williams will be exploring ways to get one of the top scorers in the league more opportunities.

“We can create some more environments for him to live freely,” he said.

With Clippers star Paul George likely to miss the entirety of the first round, Leonard stepped up offensively in game one with his 38-point effort. Suns forward Torrey Craig knows that the Suns will need to find a way to slow Leonard down in order to have a chance in the series. Craig also commented that he thinks Leonard got away with some travels in game one. Nonetheless, he noted that players have to go above and beyond when guarding Leonard.

Game two is set to tipoff at 10 p.m. at Footprint Center in Phoenix.

The series will move to Crypto.com Arena for games three and four on Thursday and Saturday.

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