|-1.5 LAL (-112) @ pinnacle|
My 10* Oddsmaker's Error is on the LA Lakers at 10:05 ET.
The Suns went 8-0 SU and ATS in the Orlando 'bubble' but still couldn't sneak into the playoffs. In the offseason, Phoenix acquired longtime All Star PG Chris Paul in an effort to break its 10-year playoff drought. The Suns opened 6-2 but were just 8-8 on Jan 27. However, the Suns visit Staples Center tonight at 22-11, having won 14 of their last 17 games. The Suns currently own the West No. 4 seed just a half-game back of the 24-12 Clippers and ONE game back of tonight's opponent, the 24-11 Lakers. The Lakers won their SEVENTH straight game on Feb 12 and at 21-6, only the 21-5 Utah Jazz owned a better record in the NBA. However, the Lakers then fell into their worst slump of the season (FOUR straight losses and five of six), before winning home games over the Blazers (Fri) and Warriors (Sun) to reach 24-11.
The two Pacific Division rivals are meeting for the first time this season tonight. Devin Booker is a major reason the Suns are among the top teams in the Western, coming off scoring a season-high 43 points in the Suns' 118-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. He has topped 30 points in THREE of his last four and is now averaging 25.5 PPG (has averaged 26.6 PPG each of the last two seasons). Chris Paul (16.4-4.7-6.0) has everything the Suns had hoped for and center Ayton (14.5 & 11.6) has stayed healthy (he has not missed a SINGLE game!) with 19 double-doubles on the season. Head coach Monty Williams moved Frank Kaminsky (7.3 & 3.8) into the starting lineup back on Feb 7 and the Suns are 11-2 (Kaminsky has started 11 of those 13 with Phoenix going 10-1).
A.D. (22.5 & 8.4) is sidelined with an Achilles problem (earliest return is right after the All Star break) and LA has gone just 3-5 since he was hurt at Denver back on Feb 15. Of course, LBJ hasn't missed a SINGLE game (35 minutes per), averaging 25.5-8.1-7.8. However, the return of PG Schroder on Friday was a "big deal." He had been held out the previous four games due to COVID-19 protocols (he tested negative but was held out due to contact tracing). Simply put, the Lakers aren't the same club without Schroder (14.5-3.6-4.3) in the lineup (had gone 0-4 SU & ATS in his absence). LA has won both games in Schroder's return! With A.D. sidelined, PF Harrell (13.7 & 6.4) and SF Kuzma (11.1 & 6.5) get more "PT" plus LA has a deep backcourt in Caldwell-Pope (8.8), Horton-Tucker (6.9), Caruso (5.8) and Matthews (4.5). Morris (4.9 & 3.7) has taken Davis' spot at PF and as he has done all season, Gasol (4.8 & 4.1) starts at center.
I like the way the Suns are playing but I said Friday I expected LA to make a strong "final push" before the All Star break. So far, so good. I've had the Lakers Friday and Sunday and will play them again here. The Lakers were in sync in Sunday's 117-91 blowout of the Warriors with LBJ scoring 19 points to lead six Lakers in double figures. James delivered his damage in a season-low 24 minutes as he and the Lakers' starters rested the entire fourth quarter. The LA bench contributed 55 points! Defense has also played a significant role Sunday. The Lakers limited Stephen Curry, who averaged 29.9 points entering the contest, to 16 points. That defensive effort came on the heels of LA holding Damian Lillard to 11 second-half points after he scored 24 in the first in Friday's victory over the Blazers. Watch out Devin! LA is a "bargain" at this price!