The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers are one game away from elimination against the Phoenix Suns in their first-round playoff series. It’s time to continue our NBA odds series and make a Suns-Lakers prediction and pick.
Here’s how sportsbooks have set the Suns-Lakers NBA odds for Game 6.
NBA Playoff Odds: Suns vs. Lakers Odds
Phoenix Suns +2 (-105)
Los Angeles Lakers -2 (-115)
Over 207.5 Points (-108)
Under 207.5 Points (-112)
Why The Suns Could Cover The Spread
It’s a little surprising here to see the Suns come out as underdogs, for a few reasons.
Firstly, they are coming off an absolute beatdown of the Lakers in which they dominated them in every fashion. Even with LeBron James clicking a bit in the first quarter (he scored or assisted on 19 of the Lakers’ 26 points in the first), the Suns withstood the onslaught and then some.
The Los Angeles offense has been shaky all season and can’t afford to be missing pieces. Unfortunately for L.A., Anthony Davis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will both be game-time decisions in this key elimination game. Even assuming Davis does play, he will most definitely not be at 100%. This has the Suns’ defense licking their chops.
In the first four games Davis did play, Phoenix slowed the L.A. offense to a crawl. With Davis, the Lakers averaged exactly 100 points a game in the first four games. This would be the third-lowest scoring average among playoff teams, only higher than the New York Knicks and Miami Heat.
On the other hand, the Suns look rejuvenated. With Davis off the floor, the Lakers don’t have an elite rim protector, which helped Phoenix thrive in Game 5.
Devin Booker scored 30 in three quarters, and backup guard Cam Payne looked like he could get in the paint whenever he wanted.
Deandre Ayton only scored eight points, but he only took three shots. Ayton is now shooting 80% from the floor in the series and should get up even more shots in Game 6.
It’s tough to see how a banged up Lakers offense will keep up with a Suns team firing on all cylinders.
Why The Lakers Could Cover The Spread
Even if Davis doesn’t play, it’s not like the Lakers can’t win without him in the lineup.
Still, the best case for the Lakers is that The Brow gives them 20-25 quality minutes and avoids further injury. If Davis can give the Lakers a few buckets and an interior presence on defense for half the game, Los Angeles will be in much better shape.
The spotlight will be on LeBron James, who has never lost a first-round playoff series and will be looking for blood.
James is averaging 22.2 points, 8.2 assists, and 6.8 rebounds on 48.9% shooting from the field. Thursday, the Lakers need James to take on the majority of the scoring load against a stacked Suns lineup.
LeBron should easily score 25-plus points, but unlike the old days, he can’t do it all himself. The Lakers need contributions from role players that they didn’t get in Game 5.
James scored 24 points in Game 5. The rest of the starters scored 11, combined. Two starters were scoreless.
The silver lining for Lakers fans is they really couldn’t play any worse. Hopefully, this cleared the system of guys like Markieff Morris and Dennis Schroder, and they’ll perform much better in front of the home crowd on Thursday.
Defensively, the Lakers have been fairly sound. They’ve held the Suns to only 102.2 points per game and only 32.5% from 3. The defensive end should be the least of the Lakers’ worries. They badly need some production on offense or they will be going home early.
Final Suns-Lakers Prediction & Pick
It would be an amazing narrative for LeBron James and the Lakers to run off two straight, even with their second-best player out. Unfortunately, not all stories have fairy-tale endings, and I think the Lakers’ 2020-21 story ends on Thursday night. Assuming Davis takes the floor, he will still have to play at an extremely limited level. Los Angeles’ role players have not stepped up to the plate all series, and they’d need them to overperform in a huge way to save them. I’ll take the Suns with the points in case Los Angeles pulls off a buzzer-beater win, but I think the Suns end the series with a Game 6 win.
FINAL SUNS-LAKERS SCORE PREDICTION & PICK: PHX 112, LAL 103 (PHOENIX SUNS +2)