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The Phoenix Suns (12-8) and Los Angeles Lakers (12-9) will duke it out Tuesday night for the right to play the New Orleans Pelicans in the first-ever NBA In-Season Tournament semifinal.
The Lakers are 2-0 against the Suns in the young season but are yet to face Devin Booker. Both games also finished with both teams within five points of one another, including a 122-119 Lakers in the last time they met up on Nov. 10.
Here, we will go over the betting odds and share our favorite picks for the Suns vs. Lakers NBA In-Season Tournament quarterfinal matchup.
The Lakers are narrow favorites on Tuesday night. They’re 8-2 inside their home arena, though the Suns are 7-3 on the road (with six wins in their last seven road games).
|Over 227.5 (-110)
|Los Angeles Lakers
|Under 227.5 (-110)
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The Lakers look like a decent team when they’re shooting around their average but like future champions when their shots are falling. That makes three-point marksmanship their number-one priority not only in this game but for the rest of the season moving forward.
LeBron James led the way the last time these teams played with 32 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists. Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell, Cam Reddish, and Austin Reaves all scored 15+ points, and the team went 12-27 (44.4%) from three.
LeBron (24.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.4 assists) and Davis (22.9 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocks) fill up the headlines for LA. However, players such as Russell and Reddish have carved important roles in the roster, whether that be Russell’s improved control and steady shooting, or Reddish’s activity in the passing lanes and ball pressure.
The Lakers once again hang their hat on defense. They’re third in defensive rating and first in defensive rebounding percentage over the last 10 games, and they also commit fewer fouls than any team despite ranking 10th in pace.
LA’s length bothered Kevin Durant both times they played, though Durant still averaged 38.5 points during those games. Taurean Prince will likely be his primary defender, while Reddish will get to dance with Booker.
The Suns were and still are a work in progress, but their vision is clear. They have two unstoppable scorers who are rarely more than one pass away and can score at will, swing the ball and let their counterpart go to work, or kick to an open shooter.
Phoenix is fifth in the league in three-point percentage (38.4%) despite only ranking 16th in makes per game. The Lakers are slightly above average (13th) at defending triples, which is of note in what figures to be a slower-paced game where there’s a premium on shotmaking.
What’s arguably most impressive about Phoenix is that every player knows their role. Durant and Booker (and Bradley Beal, when healthy) will take most of the shots, and the other players need to be ready to crash the glass, play tight defense, and nail open looks whenever the ball makes its way to them.
The Suns are seventh in rebound rate and 18th in defensive rating for the year. One drawback of not playing with a true point guard is that they turn the ball over frequently, even though Booker has shown tremendous growth in his timing and decision-making.
The Lakers have the highest net rating in In-Season Tournament play thus far, but the Suns are fifth in road net rating.
Booker caused problems for the Lakers in recent years and was also incredible in the playoffs. Monday’s In-Season Tournament games had a playoff-like atmosphere, and it’s reasonable to expect that here between teams led by LeBron and Durant.
We’re predicting that possessions will be down and teams will put more effort into creating open looks and crashing the defensive glass. If that happens, the final score will be almost entirely predicated on if the Lakers make their threes, and how Booker and Durant shoot the ball in one-on-one situations.
Phoenix kept both games close without Booker, and we think they’ll be too much to handle with him back in the lineup.
The Suns also have the ability to get hot from three, while the Lakers often have mental lapses guarding the perimeter. Too many of those will doom them against a punishing Phoenix squad, which is another reason to back the underdogs here.
Suns vs. Lakers pick: Suns +1.5 (-110) at BetMGM
Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.More info on Grant Mitchell
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