Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers – NBA, May 27, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| May 27, 2021 7:25 am PDT

The Suns travel to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers in game three, all tied at one apiece. This always had the makings to be a dramatic series, and so far, it hasn’t disappointed.

The Suns took game one winning a very low-scoring matchup 99-90. This was the Sun’s first playoff win for 11 years, and what a way to do it against the reigning NBA champions.

However, like all good champions, the Lakers bounced back in game two and have set up this intriguing encounter this evening. It was a solid performance by LA as they failed to lose any quarter of the match.

Over the past four head-to-head meetings, these two have traded blows evenly, alternating wins. If that continues tonight, the Suns will take a narrow lead into game four.

However, that certainly won’t be easy, given they have only won on one of their previous seven visits to the Staples Center.

Let’s look at the betting trends for each team, and then I will provide my Suns vs. Lakers betting prediction.

Odds for Suns vs. Lakers

Suns +7-110
Lakers -7-110
Suns To Win+260
Lakers To Win-275
Over 210.5 Points-110
Under 210.5 Points-110

While the Suns have a dreadful record on the road to the Lakers, I am amazed that the spread is so big here. I anticipated it to be around two and a half points.

However, I shouldn’t be too shocked as the betting has been strange throughout this series. The Suns started game one as the favorites, and despite winning by nine, they entered game two as the underdogs.

Although both games in the series have been low-scoring, you feel it is only a matter of time before these two unleash their offenses, and game three could be the perfect time as both teams will look to get a grip on the tie.

Both teams have similar records against Western Conference teams. The Suns have a record of 15-6 on the road, and the Lakers are 15-7 at home.

Suns Analysis

The Suns’ defeat last time out ended a run of four straight wins. Oddly the games against the Lakers have also gone against the trend of high-scoring games for the Suns as their previous ten matches have all seen more than 230-points scored.

 Perhaps it’s the added pressure of the playoffs that have shackled these two games.

They won their last two games on the road, both against the Spurs, but they had lost the previous three before that. In all three defeats, their defense played poorly as their opponents posted scores above 121-points.

Here are the latest betting trends for Phoenix:

  • Ten of their last 12 games have gone over the betting total.
  • Phoenix is 5-12 in their previous 17 matches against the Lakers.
  • All of their last five games on the road have gone over the points total.
  • They have won four of their previous five matches against teams from the west coast.
  • The Suns have lost five of their last seven games against teams based in the Pacific Division.

The most significant section of data here for me is how many of their games are going over the points total.

Phoenix has an excellent offense this season that is led by a deadly accurate shooting unit. They are making almost every one in two shots from the field goal range, which means opponents must close them and cover them tightly.

But they also must be aware not to get so close that they end up fouling the Suns as they have the second-best record in the NBA from the free-throw line. While they have maintained that sharp shooting from the free-throw line in the playoffs, their three-point shooting appears to have deserted them.

Their shooting is aided by an excellent passing game, leading them to make the second-highest number of assists this season.

They have also given away the fourth-lowest number of turnovers which highlighted how well they use the ball.

Although, this hasn’t been the case in this series, as they have made quite a few turnovers so far, which makes you question if the pressure is getting to them.

Or perhaps it’s the fact that their star talisman Chris Paul is carrying an injury and has played limited minutes so far.

Their biggest weakness in attack is their offensive rebounding, which is among the worst in the league.

Their defense has been equally impressive, and their high-court pressing game has undoubtedly worked for them throughout the season.

It has left them open in behind on occasions, but on the whole, you would have to say this tactic has worked.

However, they haven’t always defended as well on the road this season, and their defense has leaked an average of two points extra per game.

With Chris Paul carrying an injury, the Suns will need others to step up to the plate, much like the talented Deandre Ayton, who is enjoying his first-ever postseason experience.

The Suns are hopeful Paul will feature tonight, but at what capacity remains a mystery. Phoenix will also be without Nader, who is ruled out for the season with a knee injury.

Lakers Assessment

After sliding down, the Conference standings faster than a fireman sliding down a fire pole, the Lakers have bounced back to win seven of their last eight games.

This has been in thanks to many of their injured stars returning to full fitness. Their defense has been sensational recently, and they have restricted their opponents to scores of 102 or less in their previous four matches.

Their form at home has been superb as they have won their last five games in a row. Four of those matches were settled by four points or less, which shows they have the nerve and know-how to win.

This will put them in good stead for the playoffs, no doubt. The last team to beat them at home was the Raptors at the beginning of the month.

What did Toronto do that others haven’t? They had a standout performance from one of their players as Siakam scored 39-points in leading the Raptors to victory.

Here are the latest betting trends for Los Angeles:

  • The Lakers have only won two of their previous seven matches against the spread.
  • They have lost five of their last seven games against the spread when facing opponents from the Pacific Division.
  • Four of their previous five home matches played on a Thursday have gone under the betting total.

The most significant thing for me here is how many games the Lakers are losing against the spread at present.

It would appear the bookmakers are pricing their games up based on their past glories and not what they are doing right now.

Despite having a respectable field goal percentage of 47%, the Lakers attack has failed to fire more often than not this season.

Unlike their opponents tonight, the Lakers haven’t produced the goods from the free-throw line, and therefore, the Suns can afford to be slightly more aggressive in their defensive approach.

The Lakers also haven’t shot well from distance so far in this series, and this must improve if they are to progress.

Another contrast to tonight’s opponents is the Lakers haven’t used the ball half as well as the Suns, which has led to them making a high number of turnovers.

However, they have been better at home, averaging an extra couple of points per game, which could make all the difference in these tightly contested playoff games.

Their defense has been near-impenetrable this season as they have conceded on average 106-points per game, which is the second-lowest average in the NBA.

An excellent blocking game drives their defense as they have averaged five blocks per game which is amongst the highest in the league.

They will need to improve their rebounding at both ends of the court if they are to retain their title, as they have been the worst rebounders after two rounds in the playoffs so far.

However, one area that has improved in the playoffs is the number of steals they are averaging, which has risen significantly.

Perhaps the Lakers’ biggest asset is their experience, especially against a team that hasn’t been involved in the playoffs for many years.

When the chips were down, both James and Davis stood tall and saw them over the line in game two when they needed them most.

Top Suns vs. Lakers Pick

Pick
  • Suns +7
    -110

For me, this is arguably the most intriguing matchup in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Both teams have the potential to progress to the next stage and beyond, but looking past this tie could be fatal for either of them.

I was tempted to make a play on over the points total here, but the Lakers have such a great defense, and with the tie finely balanced, they both could take a cautious approach.

While it’s unknown how much a part Chris Paul will play tonight, and it was evident his absence in the second half of game two affected the Suns, you have to fancy then to win with such a large start here.

Yes, they have a poor record in LA, but they are a different team this year, and so are the Lakers. The gap between the two has closed considerably. Take the Suns to win with the points here.

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