Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers – NBA, June 3, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| June 3, 2021 9:09 am PDT

Phoenix travels back to LA to meet the Lakers at the Staples Center, knowing a win will dump the reigning champions out of the competition.

This has undoubtedly been one of the ties of the first round, with the lead changing hands three times during the series. After back-to-back wins have given Phoenix a 3-2 lead, they stand on the cusp of greatness, and no matter what happens, they have proved many doubters wrong.

The key to their success has been their impenetrable defense, which we are usually accustomed to saying about the Lakers. They have held the reigning champions to scores of 90, 92, and 85 in their three victories. You would struggle to find any team that has done that to the Lakers in the modern era.

They blew LA out of the water in game five, winning by a massive 30-points. It wasn’t just a win that put them within touching distance of the Conference semi-finals. It was a statement of intent to lay down a marker and let everyone know what the Suns are about this season.

For me, it isn’t a surprise; I am not someone that believes in living off of past glories. The Suns narrowly missed out on the Western Conference league title by a single game to the Jazz.

Here is my Suns vs. Lakers betting preview.

Suns vs. Lakers Odds

Suns +2-110
Lakers -2-110
Suns To Win+115
Lakers To Win-130
Over 207.5 Points-110
Under 207.5 Points-110

This feels like a more realistic handicap and reflection on both teams than those set in the previous two games in LA. It is also the lowest points total set in the series so far, and with four of the last five games going under the total, it is no wonder.

Suns Looking to Eclipse the Lakers

The Suns are fully aware that beating the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs is much more than just progression to the Western Conference Semi-finals. It puts all of the other teams on notice and tells the world they are indeed the real deal. But I don’t believe the Suns will be looking that far ahead as they seem a well-grounded group who know they have a job to do this evening.

In-game five, they held the Lakers to a field goal percentage of only 34%, and the Suns made just four turnovers all night. This put the Lakers under immense pressure, and the reigning champions buckled. Phoenix will stick to the same game plan of slowing the game down and frustrating LA.

The last time the Suns saw game six in the first round of the playoffs was in 2010 when they beat the Trail Blazers to wrap up the series 4-2. Unfortunately, they lost game six of the Conference finals that year against tonight’s opponents, who certainly have more experience than Phoenix.

Here are the latest betting trends for Phoenix:

Against The Spread

  • They have lost their previous six matches played on a Thursday.

Points Total

  • Nine of their last 11 games on the road have gone over the betting total.
  • Only two of their previous nine visits to LA have seen the points total fail to go under.

Other Pointers

  • They have won six of their previous eight games.
  • Phoenix is 7-13 in their last 13 matches against the Lakers.

It’s no surprise to see that it has been all about defense for the Suns so far in the playoffs, and their attack hasn’t been great. For them to remain the defensive force they have been, they will require Deandre Ayton to maintain the superb form that he has shown throughout the series.

Although his points total has dwindled over the previous three games, his performances certainly haven’t. He remains at the heart of their defense, and he has emerged as one of the best young talents the NBA has to offer.

Their three-point shooting has been off, but in saying that, it has still been better than the Lakers.

They have also rebounded terribly in offense, leading to them making the least amount of attacking rebounds in the playoffs. Thankfully, they have made up for this by making many steals, which has been their primary source of winning the ball back.

Despite this, they have moved and controlled the ball well and have made many assists.

Chris Paul is still plagued with his shoulder problem, but he is expected to continue to play through the pain barrier to help try and see his team over the line. However, one player, the Suns, will miss is Nader, who is out for the season with a knee injury.

Can the Champs Bounce Back?

The Lakers are accustomed to fighting back; it’s what all great champions do. They fought back after losing the first game in the series to re-take a 2-1 lead, and they will see this challenge as no different.

Their focus will be on winning this game and sending it into a decider, knowing their experience will undoubtedly come into play, especially against a team that hasn’t been to the dance in over a decade. LA won’t be hitting the panic button just yet; there will be plenty of fight left in them yet.

LA only played one game six in last season’s playoffs, and that was in the final against the Miami Heat. They picked up the win that night, and they will be hoping history repeats itself here.

Here are the latest betting trends for Los Angeles:

Against The Spread

  • LA is 3-7 in their previous ten matches.
  • They have only won two of their last six games against teams from the west coast.
  • The Lakers have lost seven of their previous ten matches against teams based in the Pacific Division.

Points Total

  • Six of their last seven games have gone under the betting total.
  • Only two of their previous nine matches at home to Phoenix have failed to go under the points total.

Other Pointers

  • LA is 8-3 in their last 11 games.
  • The Lakers have only lost one of their previous seven home matches.
  • They have lost five of their last six games played on a Thursday.

The Lakers haven’t shown up to the playoffs yet, and all I keep hearing is excuses about missing this player and missing that player. Unfortunately, as harsh as it sounds, you’re the defending champions, and people don’t want to hear excuses. Plenty of teams have been plagued with injuries throughout the season. This doesn’t excuse the fact they are shooting at 41% from the field goal range and only 30% from deep.

This poor display of shooting has meant they are only averaging 97-points per game so far, which wouldn’t even scare the Rockets or the Pistons.

But it’s not only their shooting that has been off; their passing hasn’t been great either as they are making many scoring opportunities. They have also made more turnovers than any other team in the playoffs this season.

However, their defense has been good, and it gives them a platform to build upon. Andre Drummond has been a vital part of this defense, and therefore it is no wonder the Lakers are trying to get him to re-sign with them in the summer. Drummond becomes a free agent at the end of the season and will have his pick of a whole host of teams, battling it out for his signature?

Anthony Davis has also been an integral part, but he is listed as questionable to play this evening which is a big blow to the Lakers’ hopes. For one, he is a key player, but perhaps more importantly, it gets back in the other player’s mindset that they are missing a key player and already have an excuse should they lose.

The Lakers have another player listed as questionable, Caldwell-Pope, who has been struggling with a knee injury.

Suns vs. Lakers Betting Pick

This is another challenging game to call, and when the chips are down, the Lakers usually come to play. My heart says the Lakers, but my head says the Suns.

I don’t see this game veering away from the others and anticipate another low-scoring affair. The difference between the two teams for me is Chris Paul. Not only for his superb playing ability but because he is a player playing through injury and getting on with things.

This is the difference between the two and why I will side with the Suns to claim the win and progress to the next round.

  • Suns To Win



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