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Game Preview: LeBron and the Lakers host shorthanded Suns

Booker and Beal leave Durant alone to fend off a team that made the Western Conference Finals a season ago.

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Phoenix Suns (1-0) @ Los Angeles Lakers (0-1)

When: 7:00pm AZ Time

Where: Crypto.Com Arena, Los Angeles, California

Watch: TNT

Listen: KMVP 98.7 FM

The win on Tuesday’s season opener against the Golden State Warriors was a quality one, but it may have cost the Suns an opportunity to be competitive on Thursday in Los Angeles against the Lakers. Bradley Beal, who has been experiencing back tightness for a week, did not suit up in San Francisco. Entering their Pacific Division battle against the Lakers, it appears that he will be out again. This time he will be joined by Devin Booker.

Booker was probable to play on Tuesday, but following a 32 point/8 assist performance, he too is out tonight.

Let the moans and groans begin from all who beat the “Suns have an injury history” drum this summer. Early in the season, we are patiently waiting for the moment in which the triple threat of Booker, Durant, and Beal simultaneously take the court in uniform. Like buying a new PS5 game, we are in the “loading” phase until we can play, patiently waiting while filled with anticipation.

The Lakers enter following a loss at the hands of the defending NBA Champions, the Denver Nuggets. Nikola Jokic had his way with LA, and Anthony Davis was held to as many points as you and I scored in the second half of that game. 0. The Lakers lost, 119-107.

Starting Lineups



  • Bradley Beal (back) is OUT
  • Devin Booker (foot) is OUT
  • Damion Lee (right knee meniscus) is OUT

Los Angeles:

  • Cam Reddish (foot) is PROBABLE
  • Jarred Vanderbilt (heel) is OUT
  • Jalen Hood-Schifino (patella) is OUT

Uniform Matchup

Courtesy of NBA LockerVision:

What to Watch For

Last week’s interior matchup did not go well for Jusuf Nurkic. 1-of-11 from the field, Anthony Davis did let him get comfortable on either end of the floor. After an embarrassing second half against Denver, expect Davis to take his frustrations out on Nurk early and often in this one.

Kevin Durant will be shouldering the offensive load, and the hope is he will have an easier time getting to comfortable shooting spots and executing. Golden State used the blueprint from last postseason deployed by the Clippers and Nuggets and played physical with KD, forcing him into numerous one-footed fall-away jumpers. Simply look at his 7-of-22 shot chart:

Expect the Lakers, a team that prides itself on physical defensive play, to do much of the same to fluster Kevin Durant and force the ball into the shooters surrounding him. How they perform will dictate the outcome of the game.

Fun Fact

Anthony Davis, in 29 games played against Phoenix in his career, averages 11.9 rebounds per game. It is his second-highest rebounding average against any opponent. Only the Hornets (12.5) allow more rebounds per game to AD.

Keys to a Suns Win

Negate extra possessions.

In their win against Golden State, between points off turnovers and second-chance points, allowed the Warriors to score 42 points. Golden State only shot 35.6% from the field, but due to the Suns’ carelessness with the ball and inability to effectively box out, the Warriors hung around and it was a close game. They aren’t a team with size and skill on the interior.

Los Angeles is.

Phoenix must team rebound, take care of the ball, and not allow the Lakers to capitalize on their mistakes. If they can do this, all while being efficient from beyond the arc, they have a chance to win.


The Suns are down two players who combined to score 51 points per game last season. That is a tall hill to climb. I believe it might be a hill too tall. On the other side of this game is a three-game homestand against the Jazz and Spurs, twice. Phoenix may be looking to utilize the second game of the season to work on conditioning and chemistry, whereas the Lakers are looking to avenge a frustrating loss and quiet the talking heads.

AD will be too much, scoring 28 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in this one. Austin Reaves will hit a couple of dagger three-pointers late, and the Lakers will ultimately emerge victorious.

Lakers 115, Suns 108

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