The second-place Phoenix Suns take on the LA Lakers, who are coming off a win against the Warriors in the play-in, for their first game in their series.

It’s one of the most interesting matchups in the first round, and you can catch the game on Monday, May 24 at 3:30 AM Manila Time.

HOME TEAM: Phoenix Suns (0-0, 0-0 at home)

Projected Starting Five:

  • PG: Chris Paul
  • SG: Devin Booker
  • SF: Mikal Bridges
  • PF: Jae Crowder
  • C: DeAndre Ayton

Well, it’s finally time for the Phoenix Suns to show what they’re made of on the playoff stage. Chris Paul has been here many times before, and Jae Crowder was on a Miami Heat team that made the NBA Finals last season. However, their two young stars Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton will be getting their first shot at the postseason. 

Their momentum carried over from the bubble, where they went 8-0, into this season, and they deserve to be in second place. While they do carry a 2-1 season series record against the Lakers, they never saw the Lakers’ superstar duo play together in any of them. LeBron James and Anthony Davis each played the Suns once, with the latter leading the Lakers to a big late-season win after erupting for 42 points.

That makes it hard to judge how Phoenix can handle a full-strength LA squad.

However, the Suns are a formidable force on their own and will be led by an elite backcourt in Chris Paul (16.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 8.9 APG, 1.4 SPG) and Devin Booker (25.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.3 APG). They’ve also got a solid shooter in Mikal Bridges, who’s averaging 42.5% from three this season, and another floor spacer in Jae Crowder (38.9 3P%). Former first pick DeAndre Ayton (14.4 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 1.2 BPG) is going to get a taste of playoff post battles as well.

One problem area that Phoenix will have to deal with is a lack of depth in the big man category. They don’t have a lot past Ayton, while the Lakers can throw not just Anthony Davis but Andre Drummond, Montrezl Harrell, and Marc Gasol at him to ruin his day.

Phoenix is an astounding 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games as home favorites. The over hit in six of those games.

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ROAD TEAM: LA Lakers (0-0, 0-0 on the road)

Projected Starting Five:

  • PG: Dennis Schroder
  • SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • SF: LeBron James (day-to-day, probable)
  • PF: Anthony Davis (day-to-day, probable)
  • C: Andre Drummond

The Lakers are currently riding a six-game winning streak that includes an important 103-100 victory against the Warriors in the play-ins that bought them a couple extra days of rest. While LeBron James (25 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 7.8 APG, 1.1 SPG) and Anthony Davis (21.8 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 3.1 APG) are listed as probable, there’s little chance that they skip a pivotal Game 1 considering they don’t have home court advantage. James got a little lucky to not lose any game time after it was revealed that he had violated health and safety protocols, so I don’t think he’ll want to sit.

If their two stars still aren’t at 100%, the Lakers will be relying on a mix of Dennis Schroder (15.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5.8 APG), Kyle Kuzma (12.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG) Montrezl Harrell (13.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG) and Andre Drummond (11.9 PPG, 10.2 RPG) to help keep the game close.

The Lakers are loaded with depth, considering that they still have Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker, Wesley Matthews, Marc Gasol, and Ben McLemore, among others, to call upon.

The Lakers are 4-6 ATS in their last 10 games as road underdogs and their over/under record in that span is 5-1-4.

PREDICTIONS:

Spread: 
The Lakers didn’t get the chance to have as much rest thanks to having to take part in the play-ins. I think the Suns, with slightly fresher legs cover the -3 spread.

Over/Under:
The Lakers won their previous game against the Suns 123-110, but things naturally slow down in the playoffs. Still, I think the over 213.5 hits.

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