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Lakers Open as 1-Point Favorite vs Suns After Defeating Warriors for 7th Seed

Chris Amberley

by Chris Amberley in NBA Basketball

Updated May 21, 2021 · 10:22 AM PDT

LeBron James dribbles upcourt
A LeBron James led team has never lost a 1st Round Playoff Series. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire).
  • The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers earned the 7th seed in the West by defeating Golden State in the Play-In Tournament on Wednesday
  • LA will face the No. 2 seed Phoenix Suns, a team they went 1-2 against this season
  • See below for Game 1 analysis, and a prediction on how the odds are likely to move before tip-off

You have to feel for the Phoenix Suns. All they did this past regular season was rack up their highest winning percentage since 2006-07, and what is their reward? A 1st Round playoff date with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers and arguably one of the top-two players of all-time.

A LeBron James team has never lost an opening round playoff series, and online sportsbooks don’t expect that to change in 2021 judging by the Game 1 opening odds.

Lakers vs Suns Game 1 Opening Odds

Team Spread at DraftKings Moneyline Total
Los Angeles Lakers -1 (-109) -115 OFF
Phoenix Suns +1 (-112) -106 OFF

Odds as of May 20th

LA opened up as a 1-point favorite in the series opener, despite starting on the road and finishing with nine fewer wins than Phoenix. Of course, the defending champs’ season was derailed when both Anthony Davis and LeBron suffered severe injuries, but both played a healthy amount of minutes in the Lakers 103-100 Play-In Tournament win over Golden State. That win earned LA a date with the Suns, beginning on Sunday (May 23rd).

Lakers Rally Past Warriors

The Lakers didn’t have their best stuff against the Warriors, but survived a dismal first two quarters, and erased a 13-point halftime deficit on their way to victory. LeBron James broke a 100-100 tie in the final minute by burying a desperation 3 that turned out to be the difference.

James finished with a triple-double (22 pts, 11 reb, 10 ast), while Davis racked up a double-double (25 pts, 12 reb), and Alex Caruso splashed 14 off the bench.

LA held Golden State to 44.6% from the field, won the rebounding and assist battle, and forced 16 second half turnovers to help cue the comeback.

Head-to-Head vs Suns

The Lakers and Suns squared off three times during the regular season, but it’s tough to take away much from those meetings. LeBron James sat out two of the three games with his ankle injury, as did AD with a back injury. The lone game each played against Phoenix came while the other was still hurt, meaning the Suns never dealt with the Lakers dynamic duo at the same time.

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The Lakers are 63-20 over the past two seasons with both in the lineup, including 16-5 during the 2020 postseason en route to the championship.

Both teams were exceptional defensively this season, with LA ranking second in scoring defense and Phoenix seventh, but there are legit questions as to whether or not the Suns can handle the Lakers size.

Deandre Ayton is the only Phoenix starter that stands taller than 6’6″, while LeBron, AD and Andre Drummond are all 6’9″ or above, which helped LA rank seventh in points in the paint this season.

Speaking of Ayton, both he and Devin Booker will be making their postseason debuts, while Chris Paul and Jae Crowder are the only members of Phoenix’s top-six that have any playoff experience.

Expect Line Movement in LA’s Favor

Outside of maybe the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys, there may not be a more public American sports franchise than the Lakers. Rabid fans are going to race to the window to bet LA, as will casual NBA bettors who consider the Suns an inexperienced team, and a much bigger underdog than they actually are.

All this money is going to drive LA’s price up to the point where Phoenix is likely going to be a screaming value in both the Game 1 and series odds. If you like the Suns, be patient. Better odds will be available soon.

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