When: 7:30 p.m. AZ Time
Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona
Watch: Bally Sports Arizona, NBATV
Listen: 98.7 FM
DraftKings Betting Lines: Suns are favored by double digits
There isn’t much left to play for in the regular season for the Phoenix Suns. They’ve locked up the Pacific Division, have secured the best record in the Western Conference, and will have home court advantage throughout their 2022 playoff run. The Suns don’t have much to play for save regaining Chris Paul’s bearings and allowing Cameron Johnson to rediscover his three-point rhythm. They’re in the midst of wrapping up the regular season at this point.
Tuesday night, though, presents a tempting opportunity. If the Phoenix Suns defeat their Pacific Division foe, the Los Angeles Lakers, they will not only set a new team record for regular season wins, but they will also eliminate the Lakers from playoff contention. That alone could be enough to motivate Phoenix in this game.
The Suns have lost their last two games to depleted Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder squads, respectively. The concentration has been missing. There hasn’t been any energy. There hasn’t been any physicality, rebounding, or effort. Although it isn’t technically necessary, a victory over the Lakers would be satisfying.
On the other side of the equation is a team that has vastly underwhelmed this season. The Lakers have lost six straight, leaving Anthony Davis wondering, “what if?”.
Anthony Davis: "What could we have been if I was healthy all year, LeBron, Kendrick Nunn? You think about those things. When we put this team together, we looked really good on paper, but we haven't had a chance to reach that potential with guys being in and out of the lineup." pic.twitter.com/4yuS4I7AJW— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) April 3, 2022
What if this team was in good shape? What if this group spent more time together? Where do you think they’d be? “If if’s were fifth’s” my friends. At the end of the day, the Los Angeles Lakers, who have a $160 million payroll, would miss the playoffs entirely if Phoenix defeats them tonight.
It’s hard to predict Laker starting lineups. They’re had 39 different ones. You’re guess is as good as mine...
- Dario Saric (knee) is OUT
- Frank Kaminsky (knee soreness) is OUT
- Kendrick Nunn (knee) is OUT
- LeBron James (ankle) is QUESTIONABLE
- Anthony Davis (foot) is QUESTIONABLE
What to Watch For
Effort. Execution. These are the two primary things I am looking for in the game against the Lakers.
On Sunday afternoon, the Suns were perfectly content to shoot a large percentage of their shots from beyond the arc against the Thunder. It’s also logical. The more you can shoot from the outside, the less you have to drive to the interior and risk harm. So I understand. At the same time, you don’t want to be in a funk heading into the playoffs. They can turn it on when they need to, but I’d rather they went into the playoffs in a rhythm and attack mentality.
We’d want to see the starters get 30 minutes or fewer in a typical “have your cake and eat it too” scenario. So, can this team execute their offense with the same level of effort that we know they’re capable of but still allowing themselves to only play 30 minutes from the starters? This is what happens in a perfect world, and it equals victory.
The Suns have played the Lakers in the playoffs 13 times. The Lakers have won 8 of those series, though the Suns’ 5 series wins have all come in the last 7 matchups since 1993, including 2021.
With a win tonight, the Suns can ensure they won’t play for a 14th time.
Keys to a Suns Win
All the Suns have to do now is play their game and stay true to their brand of basketball.
The Los Angeles Lakers are 23rd in offensive rating, 22nd in defensive rating, and 22nd in net rating. They are a bad basketball squad, plain and simple. Lakers supporters will give you a list of 20 reasons why they haven’t been successful, but the product on the floor doesn’t match the payroll coming from the front office.
Phoenix can defeat the Lakers and sweep the season series if they keep to their game plan and play with the same energy that they’ve shown throughout the season.
Win 63? Eliminate the Lakers? Oh yeah. It’s happening.
Suns 124, Lakers 109