After defeating the Golden State Warriors in the play-in game, the Los Angeles Lakers secured the seventh seed and will take on the second-place Phoenix Suns. The Lakers are a dangerous seventh seed that poses a legitimate threat, as they’re a much better team than their ranking.
Even so, the Suns finished in second place in the Western Conference for a reason. Devin Booker proves to be a star in this league, Deandre Ayton is developing into an impact player, and Chris Paul is an ageless wonder. On top of that, their roster has the depth to go the distance as well.
This is going to be a fun series that could go all the way to Game 7. These teams match up well against each other. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are a terrific duo that is sure to cause fits. However, the Suns should feel confident in themselves as they have a few advantages heading into this series.
Here are three reasons why the Suns will beat the Lakers in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
The Suns backcourt
Chris Paul and Devin Booker make up for one of the best backcourts in the NBA. Between the two, they average 42 points, 13.2 assists, and 8.7 rebounds per game. With the two of them on the court, the Lakers are sure to have their hands full. They’re the reason why the Suns have played at such a high level and they should continue leaning on their star guards in the postseason.
It’s likely Dennis Schroder guards Paul while LeBron guards Booker. Los Angeles will want their best perimeter defenders on the Suns’ backcourt at all times. For the Suns to truly utilize their strengths, coach Monty Williams will have to create a game plan to get Paul and Booker the space they need to dominate.
Deandre Ayton’s presence
Anthony Davis is one of the best players in the league right now, which doesn’t bode well for Ayton. However, with Ayton due back in the lineup for the NBA Playoffs, the Suns will have a prominent presence down low to defend Davis. Ayton’s 14.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game averages should come in handy in this series.
Ayton is a bruising center down low that plays more closely to the old-school version of basketball. However, he’s not afraid to guard the perimeter either. Davis will have his work cut out for him during this series as Ayton will do everything he can to prove he’s a top center in the league.
Mikal Bridges the X-Factor
With the Lakers prioritizing their defense around Paul, Booker, and Ayton, someone else on the Suns roster will have to step up. Mikal Bridges has the best opportunity to do so, as he could be the X-factor of this series. He’s had an up-and-down type of season, averaging 13.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game.
It is possible Bridges receives a favorable matchup in this series and has Kentavious Caldwell-Pope guarding. KCP’s defense is mediocre which should allow for Bridges to shine. He has a real opportunity to step up and prove his worth in this one. If the Suns plan on winning this series, Mikal Bridges has to perform at a high level. This could give the Suns the advantage they need to close out the series.