What: Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers
When: 8:30 PM
Where: Staples Center, LA
Listen: 98.7 FM ArizonaSports
After their disappointing loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, the Suns got a quick breather before jumping right back into action, this time on the road against a surprisingly good Lakers team.
This team may not quite be good yet, but they look far further along than most expected this early in the season. They started 10-10 before dropping four straight after a few injuries started piling up.
This Lakers unit doesn’t excel in any particular facet of the game, but they are really well balanced. Of particular note is the strength of their bench unit. Lou Williams has returned to his form from a few seasons ago and is a serious contender for 6th Man of the Year at this point. He is averaging 19 a game. Other key contributors off the bench include Luol Deng, Brandon Ingram, and Larry Nance Jr.
Of benefit to the Suns tonight is the fact that the Lakers are dealing with a number of injuries. D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young, both starters, are out, as are reserves Jose Calderon and Tarik Black.
This team is currently in a spiral, having won just 1 of its last 6 games and 3 of its last 10. Most outside observers expected the Suns to be below average this season, but even the basketball community seems perplexed by how bad this team has looked so far this season.
The Suns may be one of the worst teams in the NBA, but one thing they do well at this point is play at a high pace. Coming into this game the Suns rank first in the NBA with the highest pace offense in the league, using 104 possessions per game. While we might (credibly) claim that this is partly the result of poor, low resistance defense, you have to hang your hat on something.
Something to watch for in this game is the continued emergence of Alex Len. Over the last 10 games Len is having one of his best stretches in recent memory, averaging 9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2 blocks in 25 minutes, while shooting 52.5%. Those aren’t stellar numbers, but they’re beginning to look like numbers you would expect from an average starting center in the NBA.
The Suns should have a slight advantage here because of the injuries the Lakers are dealing with, but you can never be sure with this team.
I’ll take the Suns in a nailbiter.