When: 7 p.m. MST
Where: Staples Center
Listen: 98.7 FM
The Spread: Lakers -7.0
Game three is upon us, folks. The Suns are now on the road and will look to regain homecourt advantage with a win in either of these two games in the Staples Center.
While most teams dread going on the road during the grueling regular season, Phoenix actually boasted the best road record in the entire NBA at 24-12. The Playoffs are an entirely different animal of course, but it’s still a positive note to factor in.
While it was a disappointing ending in Game 2, the Suns showed their resilience to fight back and make things interesting down the stretch despite trailing most of the game. Cameron Payne was the engine that roared that impressive comeback, and if Paul isn’t his usual self again (likely) then it’s vital for Payne to fill that void yet again.
The major storyline of this game will be the health status of Chris Paul and how he is used by Phoenix and how he is defended by Los Angeles. The subplot will be how each team tries to slow down Booker and Davis.
Lakers: LeBron James (ankle), Anthony Davis (shoulder) both probable.
Suns: Abdel Nader (OUT), Chris Paul (shoulder) probable
Chris Paul is listed on the injury report with a right shoulder contusion. He's probable for the Suns tomorrow against the Lakers.— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) May 27, 2021
No other additions for Phoenix.
It’s difficult to imagine either team making any dramatic changes given the turnaround from a travel day on their off day with no practice in between games, but that doesn’t mean minor adjustments won’t be made by each party.
The center of attention will be the health status of Chris Paul and how comfortable he is with that hampered shoulder injury. Will he be used as a decoy again? Will he have enough juice to make the open crosscourt pass or shoots threes? These are the burning questions we won’t get an answer to until he steps on the court.
Phoenix has to get Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson more involved offensively this game to have a chance, it can’t just be all Booker and Ayton as great as they’ve been.
Dario Saric should have a very short leash, and it would not surprise me at all if Monty decided to roll with Frank Kaminsky or Torrey Craig in favor of the struggling Saric. Our own John Voita wrote a piece highlighting why Craig should get minutes over Saric. I’m in agreement, because at this point even if you’re undersized at least Craig will provide the energy and defense that Saric hasn’t brought to the table thus far.
Kaminsky could be a more likely option due to Monty’s desire to match size with size in the past rather than making teams adjust to them, so we shall see.
Overall, the defense Phoenix has played on LeBron (forcing him to take tough jumpers) and Davis (bulk off offense from the charity stripe) has been impressive. It will be interesting to see the adjustments made on both sides and see how Phoenix responds to the first punch of the series from LA.
The major key to this game from the jump will be avoiding that choppy, sloppy game flow early on because it clearly took Phoenix out of their rhythm in the 1st quarter of Game 2. Let’s hope the officials actually let them play basketball this game.
If Chris Paul plays >25 minutes: Suns 107, Lakers 102
If Chris Paul plays <25 minutes: Lakers 103, Suns 99