Will Kawhi Leonard & Chris Paul Play Tonight? LA Clippers vs Phoenix Suns Game 3: Prediction, Injuries, and Lineups

Published 06/24/2021, 1:30 AM EDT
May 23, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul reacts after suffering an injury against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half during game one in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports | Courtesy: Reuters


The Phoenix Suns are 9-0 in the last nine games and 13-2 in the last 15 (including regular season). This Phoenix team is running after Los Angeles like a Marvel villain would run after a city. They first rammed LeBron James’ Lakers with a 4-2 show and are now in the driving seat with a 2-0 lead over the Clippers.

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But talking about 2-0, the Clips are no strangers to this, not at least in the NBA playoffs 2021. They’ve bounced back from the same deficit against the Mavericks and the Jazz. However, they could pull that largely because of Kawhi Leonard and that name missing the show can make all the difference.

Clippers vs Suns: Injury updates and lineup prediction

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Jun 6, 2021; Kawhi Leonard reacts during a game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers had no issues with Serge Ibaka sitting out after his back surgery. However, Tyronn Lue’s men cannot say the same for Kawhi Leonard.

The Claw injured himself in Game 4 against the Jazz and is yet to recover from the scary knee injury. The latest update has ruled him out of Game 3 on Thursday.

Potential starting five – Paul George (F), Marcus Morris (F), Ivica Zubac (C), Reggie Jackson (G), and Patrick Beverley (G)

The Suns are finally back to their original shape because Chris Paul has cleared his safety protocols. After staying out for two straight games because of contracting Covid, the veteran is ready to play. So, it is only Abdel Nader (Knee injury) who will miss the game. 

Probable starting lineup – Mikal Bridges (F), Jae Crowder (F), De’Andre Ayton (C), Devin Booker (G), and Chris Paul (G)

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Chris Paul Injury Update: Phoenix Suns Veteran Set to Return on Thursday vs Clippers

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Who wins?

One can call it their luck or their preparation on the health front, the Suns have been at an advantage this season. First, they played against the Lakers (with injured Anthony Davis), then they battled the Nuggets (no Jamal Murray), and now the Clippers (absent Kawhi Leonard).

So, they definitely hold a clear positive after Chris Paul makes his return. Apart from that, Cameron Payne already proved how he can be a matchwinner after testing himself in CP3’s shoes.

Plus, both Devin Booker and De’Andre Ayton are playing the best basketball of their life to further make it a dominant show.

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With the Clippers, both Terence Mann and Rajon Rondo make for decent rotation players, but they’re yet to manage the impact that Cameron Johnson pushes.

Plus, they’re still testing trial and error to find a perfect starting roster in the absence of Kawhi. In doing so, they now know how Nicolas Batum and Marcus Morris are both out of touch. Moreover, they must find some way to help Ivica Zubac up his defensive game. 

On Thursday, a lot will depend on the duo of PG and Reggie if the Clippers wish to win. As of now, we believe the Suns are going to make it 3-0.

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Sourabh Singh

1419 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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