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The stars shone during the opening game of the Clippers-Suns series -- a thrilling encounter with a surprise outcome. The Clippers were considered the underdog against one of the hottest teams in the NBA, but Los Angeles went into the Suns’ back yard and came out with the win despite Paul George’s absence from the series.

The Suns struggled with defensive rotations early in the game, as Phoenix players crashed inside and left the likes of Eric Gordon wide open from 3-point range on multiple occasions. Phoenix’s poor start allowed the Clippers to build an early double-digit lead, and all of Los Angeles’ talent got in on the scoring.

Phoenix fought back in the second half and took the lead midway through the third quarter. It set up a back-and-forth final quarter that made for some highly entertaining basketball.

Kevin Durant starred for the Suns, but Kawhi Leonard delivered victory for the Clippers. Leonard gave Los Angeles the lead that secured a Game 1 win by hitting back-to-back clutch 3-pointers with two minutes to go.

The Clippers’ Russell Westbrook showed his playoff experience with a fine performance of his own, including a sensational play that wrapped up the game in its dying moments. Westbrook challenged Devin Booker on a lay-up attempt, and as the ball came down -- and Booker was appealing to the refs for a foul -- Westbrook knocked the ball out of bounds off Booker's legs to give Los Angeles possession.

The Suns played well in the second half, but they were extremely slow out of the gate, and will need to correct that to level the series at home before going to L.A. for Games 3 and 4. Here are some NBA same-game parlay picks ahead of tonight's Game 2 at the Footprint Center.

Clippers vs Suns Odds, Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under – NBA Playoffs Betting Lines 4/18

Moneyline: Clippers (+333), Suns (-450)
Spread: Clippers +8.5 (-115), Suns -8.5 (-106)
Total: Over/Under 225.5 points

Clippers vs Suns Injury Report

Paul George is expected to miss the first round of the playoffs with a knee injury, meaning the Clippers will need to get past the Suns without him. Apart from George, the team is healthy.

Cameron Payne, questionable with a back injury, is the only potential absence for the Suns. He didn’t play in Game 1, and his last appearance off the bench came on April 8 vs. the Lakers.

Clippers vs Suns Prediction

Both of these teams played well in Game 1. It was an exhilarating playoff game with Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant leading the charge for their respective teams. As a neutral NBA fan, all you can hope for when watching the playoffs are a back-and-forth game, a great atmosphere, and top-tier performances from the best players in the league. Game 1 had all of that.

A sluggish start in the opening quarter cost the Suns, who had to fight their way back from a double-digit deficit. Had Phoenix opened the game the same way it played in the second half -- with far more aggression and an urgency to take the game to the Clippers – it might have come away with the win.

Early on, it appeared the Suns had built a game plan focused on neutralizing Kawhi Leonard’s efficiency. Unfortunately for Phoenix, that left the likes of Eric Gordon wide open from 3-point range, enabling momentum to shift to the visiting team.

Kevin Durant still dazzled with 27 points. He went 3-for-7 from 3-point range and always seemed to be the guy hitting his shot when the Suns needed it most. Booker scored 26 points, while Torrey Craig turned in a blistering performance of his own with 22.

The Suns can win Game 2. They must still focus on Kawhi yet do a better job of closing down open looks from the perimeter. Deandre Ayton also needs to play a little more aggressively against Ivica Zubac. 

If the Suns don’t struggle early again in Game 2, I can see them tying up the series and heading to L.A. at 1-1.

Best NBA Same Game Parlay Picks Today for Clippers vs Suns - NBA Playoffs Game 2: Four-Leg Parlay Picks (+1500)

Player Total Points

Kawhi was outstanding in Game 1. He was hitting threes with a man in his face and showed so much composure late in the game. That effort gave the Clippers a very important road win to open the series.

His 38-point performance led both teams in scoring, as he shot 3-for-5 (60 percent) from 3-point range made nine of 10 free-throw attempts. Clearly the focus of the Suns’ defense, he still surged to almost 40 points on the night. I’m not sure Phoenix has a strong answer for guarding him.

Kawhi has to be the momentum-generator for the Clippers. With Paul George out and Westbrook dishing, Kawhi is the focus, and I can see him easily bumping past 30 points again in tonight's Game 2. So, he’s up first in my NBA parlays and picks with another 30+ scoring night.

Leg-1 SGP Pick: Kawhi Leonard Over 30 Points Scored (+120)

Player Total Points

Deandre Ayton and the Clippers’ Ivica Zubac played the majority of Game 1 in isolation. Neither gets much help in the paint, where it's a matter of winning one-on-one matchups to give your team the best chance of victory.

Ayton had 18 points in Game 1 on 8-for-16 shooting, and the Suns could benefit from looking his way a little more often in this second meeting. 

With so much attention defensively around both Durant and Devin Booker, Ayton can go to work inside. He just has to win his matchup with Zubac to get his shots off and lose him occasionally for an easy two points.

I have Ayton repeating his scoring total from Game 1 with at least another 18 in the second game tonight.

Leg-2 SGP Pick: Deandre Ayton Over 18 Points Scored (+100)

Player 3-Pointers

In Game 1, Durant seemed happy to take deep 3-point looks when they presented themselves as opposed to driving inside.

He shot seven threes in the series opener, including a clutch tough look late in the fourth quarter. His superstar presence was evident throughout the game, and a Durant takeover could be the difference between winning and losing Game 2 in Phoenix.

Durant is getting better looks and therefore shooting more threes since joining the Suns, thanks to better spacing and better distribution from Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Leg 3 of this NBA same-game parlay picks for today is another strong performance by the Suns’ star forward from 3-point range.

Leg-3 SGP Pick: Kevin Durant 3+ Three Pointers Made (+110)

Player Rebounds

Russell Westbrook has been in the playoffs many times before, and he looks like exactly what the Clippers wanted when they acquired him. Credit to Russ for coming out of a poor situation with the Lakers -- where he was blamed for the team’s struggles -- and finding his love for the game again in a hurry.

Westbrook was two assists and one point away from a triple-double in the first game of the series, finishing with 11 rebounds and a great performance despite not being a primary scoring option.

If he continues in a similar role for Game 2, another eight rebounds feels like a good bet, considering the generous odds. His regular-season numbers were a little lower, but this is the postseason. If the Clippers have found a winning formula and a role that works for Russ, they don’t need to change it.

Leg-4 SGP Pick: Russell Westbrook 8+ Rebounds (+105)

Odds are subject to change*

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