This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.
Reggie Jackson UNDER 18.5 points (+100) vs. PHX – DraftKings (12:49 PM CT)
Over the past four games, Jackson is averaging 23.0 points. However, he's shooting an unsustainable (for him) 53.8 percent from the field. More importantly, however, is the return of Chris Paul. I believe Paul will slow down Jackson, and he'll force Jackson to work harder on defense as well, possibly tiring him out.
Phoenix Suns -1.5 (-108) at LAC – DraftKings (12:37 PM CT)
Even though they're coming off of a pair of losses, the Clippers have played incredibly well without Kawhi Leonard. They played the Suns almost evenly through two games, but Phoenix will get Chris Paul back tonight, while the Clips will still be without their superstar. No team has shown more resilience this postseason than the Clippers, but with Paul back in the mix, it's hard for me to see a reason why I should side with LA.
Chris Paul OVER 17.5 points (+111) at LAC – DraftKings
I get the argument that Paul perhaps eases his way back into action after missing Games 1 and 2, but keep in mind that he's not returning from an injury – he's coming back from a COVID-19-related absence, and earlier this week it was reported that Paul was symptom-free. With a chance to take a commanding 3-0 lead and essentially seal up his first trip to The Finals, I expect Paul to come out with the same aggressiveness that was on display during the Nuggets series, when he topped 20 points three times in four games and posted 27 and 37 points in Games 3 and 4, respectively.
Deandre Ayton double-double + Suns to win (+200) – DraftKings (11:38 AM CT)
Ayton has four double-doubles in the past six games, but one of the misses came in Game 1 of this series, so it's certainly not a lock. The odds are honestly tremendous given how little size the Clippers have, to the point where I'd feel comfortable even if it was close to +100. I think the Clippers can possibly steal one game at home, but with the return of Chris Paul (COVID-19), I really don't see how it happens Thursday.
Deandre Ayton OVER 15.5 points (-111) at LAC – BetMGM (11:54 AM CT)
Ayton has been huge for the Suns in the Western Conference Finals, scoring an average of 22.0 points while hitting 75.7 percent from the field. The Clippers' small-ball approach hasn't been successful against the Suns , so it's possible coach Ty Lue switches things up for his team. Even if coach Lue does so, none of the Clippers' big men are talented enough to slow down Ayton. Another reason I like this bet is because of Chris Paul being set to return for Game 3. This will only help Ayton, as a lot of Paul's assists go to Ayton in the paint. I expect the center to get well over his points line once again in what will be an important Game 3.