When: 7:00 p.m. AZ Time
Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California
Watch: Bally Sports AZ, ESPN
Listen: 98.7 FM
Games against the Los Angeles Lakers always carry with them a different kind of weight. The PHX/LA rivalry goes back since the inception of the franchise in 1968, and whenever the two purple’s battle, you’re sure to see some fireworks.
With the Suns struggling and in dire need of stringing together wins, coupled with the Lakers fighting for a play-in spot, Wednesday night’s game becomes rather important for both sides of the ball.
For the Suns, who are 1-4 in their last 5 games, the Lakers are one of the few remaining teams on their schedule with a sub-.500 record. In fact, of the 11 games remaining, only three (the Lakers, the 36-37 Minnesota Timberwolves, and the 19-52 San Antonio Spurs) have losing records. Two of those teams are duking it out for a spot in the playoffs.
Nothing is easy.
The Lakers are 9-6 in their last 15 games and have done so by dominating the glass, as they are 3rd in the NBA in total rebounding in their last 15. They’ve been led by Anthony Davis’ 25 points and 13.4 rebounds. D’Angelo Russell, acquired via trade with the Timberwolves, has averaged 18.2 points and is shooting 38.8% from beyond the arc. Austin Reaves and Dennis Schroder have added a combined 33.9 points.
This isn’t the same Lakers team the Suns defeated twice earlier in the season.
Between KD and LBJ, there are 65,214 points on the bench.
- Kevin Durant (knee) is OUT
- Deandre Ayton (hip) is OUT
- LeBron James (foot) is OUT
- Mo Bamba (ankle) is OUT
What to Watch For
Can anyone in the starting five assist Devin Booker with scoring? In the last 15 games, in which the Suns are 8-7, Booker has averaged 28.5 points and accounted for 428 of the 1,234 points scored by the starting unit. That’s 35% of all starter points. His 428 points are 4th most in the NBA.
It’s not only the starting five that will need to step up in this one, however. The Lakers rely heavily on their bench as they are second in the NBA in bench scoring over their last 15 games, scoring 44.9 points-per-game. The Suns? 18th with 33.7 points. And they’re -14 in that timeframe.
Can the Suns give Devin some support, both with the first team unit as well as with the second team? We can’t have him getting worn out do to his willingness to carry this team across the regular season finish line.
Keys to a Suns Win
This could be a game that enters clutch-time moments. Someone needs to step up and be the Robin to Devin’s Batman. The Suns’ offense is becoming predictable with one primary scorer and it is stunting their effectiveness, especially in the clutch.
Phoenix sits at 13-17 in clutch time minutes, and while Devin Booker has scored 21 points in the Suns’ last 6 clutch time games, no one else regularly contributes. CP3 has 9 points in the same time frame, KD and DA have 7 points, and the rest of the Suns combine for 7 points.
“From this point on, it’s going to be more of a concise rotation,” Monty Williams stated on Tuesday. If this is the case, if the Suns can add stability to what they are doing, hopefully the above metrics will work in their favor.
Stability should equate to defined roles, defined roles should equate to confidence and consist productivity...which should equate to wins.
Phoenix needs this one. NEEEEEEEDS! The Lakers have been spicy. Time for the Suns to be pickle juice, or milk, or whatever weird way you stop your mouth from burning! Time to put out that spice!
It’s going to be from an x-factor, and I’m looking at you, Anthony Warren, Jr. Monty should solidify the rotations, and Warren needs to be a part of them. Did you know that he has scored a total of 9 points since returning to Phoenix? 9!
My prediction? For the first time since January 20, 2019, T.J. Warren will score over 20 points. His contribution from the bench will propel the Suns to victory!
Suns 116, Lakers 113
When the game is over, join the Suns JAM Session Podcast as we discuss the game live on YouTube: