So after having a blast of a day at the Barstool Classic, I’m off to cover the Suns-Lakers Game 2 from press row once again.
I hope this game is as physical and chaotic as the last game. As a fan this is EXACTLY the kind of series that you want to see.
Lot of chatter about this being a do or die game for the Lakers. I mean, last year they lost Game 1 to the Blazers then came back and won in five. But the Suns aren’t Portland.
Five things to look for tonight.
First, I think it’s the same thing as Game 1 in that it’s all about Ayton vs. Davis. Can the Suns stymie Davis early and frustrate him? This all starts with Ayton’s rebounding and defense. This is why Chris Paul has worked with him all year, to prepare him for exactly this moment. DeAndre Ayton has clearly heard all the slander, internalized it, and come out on the other side a man. This is only his 3rd year in the league, so he’s young and he has literally like a burglar and snatched Anthony Davis’ soul and is carrying it in his pocket. 10-11 for 21 and 16 boards and great defense. That’s clutch. As for Davis we know he can beat the Suns by himself, but is he healthy enough to be the X-Factor? I doubt it.
Two, will Lebron try and carry the team by himself? He’s not going down with a whimper. Couple things we know about Bron. One, he’ll go down swinging. And two, he’ll go down faking a serious injury. He’s done it twice in this post-season already, so that’s a mortal lock. What he really needs to do is back down players and stop settling for jump shots. They won’t win with Bron getting 18 points. He needs to act as if this is the last time he’ll ever use that ankle.
Three, how healthy is Chris Paul? He looked to be fine after the shoulder contusion, but those have a way of stiffening up. So hopefully, he won’t be hampered by it moving forward. But if he is? That changes a LOT for the Suns. The spacing is FUCKED without him on the floor. He doesn’t need to score much but he’s so dangerous you can’t cheat on him. Cam Payne is not the same.
Fourth, is Devin Booker going to be the Book we saw in Game 1, because if he is, I don’t know if anyone can beat them if that’s that case. 34/7/8 is an insane stat line against the top defense in the league. Who’s going to stop him? Because Schroter sure isn’t. And if the Lakers can’t slow him down, who out there is?
Fifth, the Suns bench played poorly, and they have one of the deepest benches in the league. The Cams were 5-15, and along with Jae Crowder shooting 0-7 from three, those three will likely not underperform like that again.
For the Lakers to win, AD has to have a HUGE game like he did on May 9th when he had 42 against the Suns. The Lakers slowed Booker down in that game (21 points) and got HUGE bench performances. So to beat the Suns, the starters need to play great and pretty much the entire bench has to shoot well (Mathews had 4 threes in that game). The role players HAVE to step up. They need a 50/40 game to win.
Prediction: Suns 116 Lakers 100.
Follow me on social all night for all sorts of behind-the-scenes info.
Below is the full behind-the-scenes look at my visit to Phoenix Suns Arena (formerly Taling Stick) for Game One.
We talked about the playoffs so far and previewed the rest of the series on this episode of This League. If you want to watch full episodes rather than listen, YT link is right here.