The Lakers have some momentum after their win over the Warriors in the Play-In game. Will that be enough to defeat the Suns in the first game of the first round of the playoffs?
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns
Sunday, May 23, 2021 – 3:30pm EST at Phoenix Suns Arena
The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors to clinch a spot in the playoffs. They’ll take on the Phoenix Suns as the seven seed facing the two seed. The Suns have home court advantage but odds say that the Suns really don’t have any other advantages.
The Lakers, as the seven seed, are heavy favorites to win this series against the Suns. Of course, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are back in action after dealing with injuries throughout the regular season.
The Lakers don’t have the best offense but that should change in the playoffs. They scored 110.8 points per 100 possessions and had an effective field goal percentage of 54 percent outside of the playoffs. Without LeBron playing point guard, this team turned the ball over 15.3 percent of the time, which is a whole lot. They were also average on the glass offensively, but having James and Davis back in the lineup will change that.
The Lakers are led by James, who averaged 25 points per game along with 7.8 assists and 7.7 rebounds. Davis contributed 21.8 points per game along with 7.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists. They’ve added Andre Drummond to the roster. The center has contributed 11.9 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game. That’s a double-double per game which has been helpful on the glass. That was an area that was a bit harder for the Lakers to recover from when James and Davis went down with injuries.
Although the offense wasn’t top notch this season, the defense was. The Lakers allowed just 108 points per 100 possessions and held opponents to a 53.1 percent effective field goal percentage. The Lakers also forced 15.3 percent turnovers and hit the defensive glass hard, not allowing second chance opportunities. The Suns offense is going to be tough to guard though. Phoenix averaged 117.7 points per 100 possessions and an effective field goal percentage of 56.8 percent. They’ve been able to limit turnovers to just 12.7 percent but have struggled on the offensive glass and also don’t get to the line with much consistency.
The Suns went 51-21 on the season behind Devin Booker who carried the team with 25.6 points per game this season. The new addition of Chris Paul was a huge boost to this offense. He scored 16.4 points and assisted on nearly nine baskets per game. But most of all, he became a leader for this young team and Phoenix gelled perfectly because of it.
The Suns did a terrific job on offense but the 51-21 record was because of the defensive mindset. The Suns allowed just 111.5 points per 100 possessions and held opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 53.8 percent. Just like the Lakers, the Suns limited second chance opportunities and forced turnovers 14 percent of the time.
The Lakers have some momentum after winning a tough play-in game against the Warriors last week. The Suns haven’t played a game since May 16, which could allow the Lakers to come out early. The Suns might show rust early and we all know LeBron James has never been eliminated from the first round of the NBA Playoffs in his career. With the Lakers as underdogs to start the series, I’ll be all over them to cover that spread and win this game.
NBA pick: Lakers +2.5 (-110) at Bet 365