Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals was rated PG-13 as Paul George went off for a playoff career-high of 41 points to help the Clippers avoid elimination. Can George repeat that performance tonight in Game 6 to force a Game 7, or will Devin Booker and the Suns rise up to close out the series?
The Clippers are currently listed as a one-point favorite at multiple online sportsbooks across the country (Fanduel Sportsbook). Here are four things to watch for in Game 6.
- Can Phoenix Bounce Back?
The Phoenix Suns were manhandled in Game 5 by the Los Angeles Clippers. George and Reggie Jackson dominated the game from the opening tip and simply embarrassed the Suns on their home floor Monday night. The 14-point loss was demoralizing for Phoenix in front of their fans.
The Suns played well on the road during the regular season by posting a record of 24-12. Suns coach Monty Williams should have his team more focused on closing out the series tonight after such a lackluster effort in Game 5. The last thing Phoenix wants is to have to play a Game 7 after having a 3-1 series lead.
- Can George Keep Carrying the Load with Leonard Out?
George did a phenomenal job of putting the entire Clippers team on his back and carrying them to victory in Game 5. Not only did George score 41 points, but he grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out six assists as well. With Kawhi Leonard still sidelined with a knee injury, George will have to continue to shoulder the majority of the offensive workload.
It’s been impressive to watch George put up dominant performances the entire postseason. The 6-8 shooting guard averaged 23.3 points per game during the regular season but has turned it up a notch in the playoffs by averaging 27.2 points per contest.
- Can Jae Crowder Get Going for the Suns?
Crowder had a great Game 1 against the Clippers by scoring 13 points and grabbing six rebounds. However, the 6-6 power forward hasn’t put up double figures in points since that nice performance. Chris Paul and Devin Booker both had splendid stat lines in Game 5, but the Suns need better support from Crowder if they expect to close out the series in Game 6.
- Will Boogie Cousins Get More Minutes for the Clippers?
Demarcus Cousins only played 11 minutes for Los Angeles in Game 5, but the 30-year old center put up a solid performance. Cousins scored 15 points, brought down two rebounds, and passed for three assists off the bench. Will that strong contribution earn Cousins more minutes in Game 6?
Clippers fans certainly hope to see more of Cousins, especially after his emphatic slam dunk over Suns’ power forward Dario Saric. That was the kind of dunk that ends up on posters. If veterans like Cousins and point guard Rajon Rondo can give the Clippers a spark off the bench, the Clippers may end up forcing a Game 7.