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Open Thread: Phoenix Suns (1-2) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (0-3)

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Suns vs. Lakers, a rivalry revived led by Devin Booker and LeBron James? Let’s find out.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This feels like a much-needed spark this historic Western Conference rivalry needed for it to get going again. LeBron James, arguably the greatest player in NBA history, is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.

On the opposite side, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton look to lead a young Suns group to a surprising victory.

Note: Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram are out of tonight’s game with suspensions from their fight with Chris Paul.

Since I didn’t do the preview, here are my three biggest keys to the game:

  • Feed Deandre Ayton. Matching up with JaVale McGee, with little depth behind him, Ayton needs to be aggressive. We could honestly see LeBron guarding Ayton if McGee enters early foul trouble. And for the Suns to defeat this desperate Lakers squad aiming for their first win, Ayton will need his first 20 and 10 game.
  • The Suns have the worst transition defense while the Lakers have the best transition offense. Something has to give, and most likely it will be Phoenix’s defense. That means Phoenix will have to somehow outpace Los Angeles. With that being said, utilize Devin Booker and Ayton to their advantage by playing a blistering pace. Phoenix’s offense could hang 120-130 on the Lakers, but they will have to come up with a few key stops late. Prepare for a track meet to take place at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
  • Mikal Bridges and T.J. Warren further separate themselves as valuable pieces off the bench. We’ve seen it through three games with Warren, but Bridges has impressed in 30 minutes total. Counteracting Los Angeles, I’m hoping to see Bridges matched up on Kuzma often. Also, it will have to be another game where Warren stays hot from all three levels. Those two are far and away my biggest x-factors outside of Booker and Ayton for Phoenix to upend Los Angeles.

Probable starters:

Lakers - Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, LeBron James, JaVale McGee

Suns - Isaiah Canaan, Devin Booker, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, Deandre Ayton