LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers might be favorites to win their first-round playoff series against Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns, but LA is the road underdog to pull off the upset in Game 1 on Sunday.
Phoenix went 51-31 to finish second in the loaded Western Conference, one game behind the Utah Jazz. The Lakers (42-30) narrowly got past Golden State in overtime in its play-in game the last time out to earn the No. 7 seed in the conference playoffs.
Now, with Game 1 quickly approaching, let’s find out why the vast majority of public hoops bettors are already backing Phoenix to cover the chalk. The NBA Odds for this matchup are live in the BetUS Online Sportsbook right now.
Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns
When: Sunday, May 23, 2021, at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Phoenix Suns Arena, Phoenix, AZ
Radio: ESPN Radio, KMVP-AM / S: KSUNESPN LA 710/KWKW (S)
LA Lakers +3
LA Lakers +125
Lakers Look To Duplicate Dominating Win
Los Angeles lost the first two regular-season meetings against Phoenix, but recorded an emphatic 123-110 win over the Suns on May 9, the last time the Pacific Division rivals met. LeBron James missed the final two games in the series, but Anthony Davis went for a game-high 42 points in the last meeting.
James put up 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists and drained a crucial 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down to lead the Lakers to a 103-100 win over Golden State in their play-in matchup Wednesday night.
“He proved why he is the best player in the world. Just add it to the list of great plays and accomplishments,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. Anthony Davis scored 13 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to help LA to its sixth straight win.
Los Angeles finished a stellar second in points allowed (106.8 ppg) during the regular season and ranked fourth in opponents’ three-point field goal shooting percentage (35.2%). LA is 21-15 away from STAPLES Center.
Suns Can Make Early Statement
Phoenix won three straight and four of six to finish off what has been nothing short of a stunning campaign in the desert. The Suns are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2009-10 when they lost in the conference finals against … you guessed it, the Lakers.
Phoenix has transformed from a perennially disappointing team into one of the most promising teams in the league – and it all starts with the veteran leadership of Chris Paul.
The future Hall of Fame floor leader put up 16.4 points and 8.9 assists per game while All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker averaged 25.6 points per contest.
Phoenix recorded consecutive wins over San Antonio in its final two regular-season games, including a 123-121 win in its finale on May 16. E’Twaun Moore scored a team-high 22 points and made a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds remaining to lift the shorthanded Suns to the win. Phoenix sat Paul and Booker in their finale.
“I love it when they celebrate with each other,” NBA Coach of the Year Monty Williams of the Suns said. “I’m the only one that they can’t celebrate, because I haven’t done squat, but they need to celebrate each other every chance they get, every achievement.”
Suns Get It Done in Game 1
Phoenix is the more complete and deeper team in this matchup and the only ball club with an offense and defense that both rank inside the top 10. The Suns have lost nine games at home this season (27-9) and have made a habit out of winning close games down the stretch.
Phoenix is 10-2 ATS in its last 12 home games against a team with a winning road record and 29-13 ATS in its last 42 home games. The Lakers are 4-10-1 ATS in their last 15 games, 2-5-1 ATS in their last eight road games, and a woeful 2-12 ATS in their last 14 games following a straight-up win.
I like the Suns to get the win in the series opener to deliver a message to LA that they are indeed a real threat to come out of the West. I like the manageable 3-point spread and can see CP3 and the Suns winning this one by a half-dozen points.