NBA Odds, Preview, Prediction for Lakers vs. Suns Game 2: How Does LeBron, Los Angeles Respond to 0-1 Hole? (May 25)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James.
- Phoenix and Los Angeles play again on Tuesday following the Suns' convincing Game 1 win over the weekend.
- The Lakers are the favorites, however, as Phoenix's Chris Paul is less than 100 percent due to an injury he suffered last time out.
- Austin Wang explains why he's backing LeBron James and the Lakers to tie the series at one game a piece.
Lakers vs. Suns Odds
|Moneyline||-121 / +102|
|Time||Tuesday, 10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Tuesday morning and via DraftKings|
There's a chock full of storylines as we get ready for game two between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns on Tuesday evening. How will LeBron and the Lakers respond to a 0-1 hole to the Suns? What is the status of Chris Paul's shoulder and how will it affect him in Game 2? Will Deandre Ayton be suspended or not for his role in the skirmish?
After suffering a loss as 2-point underdogs in Game 1, the Lakers somehow flipped to 1.5-point favorites for Game 2 as the market expects the Lakers to bounce back and seems to be bearish on the Suns with Chris Paul at less than 100%.
These uncertainties make this game a tough one to handicap, but let's break down the matchup below and see if there is any value.
LeBron Typically Responds Well to Playoff Losses
The Lakers came out flat in Game 1, but big man Anthony Davis was especially disappointing, finishing the game with a plus/minus of -18 and only shot 5-for-16 from the field, settling for jump shots instead of attacking the rim. He acknowledged this after the game, claiming "there's no way we're winning a game, let alone a series, with me playing the way that I played." I anticipate Davis will come out with a little more fire in Game 2.
Believe it or not, this will be the 263rd playoff game for LeBron James, which is by far the most out of any active NBA player. The active player with the second most is Andre Iguodala at 168 games. This is not James's first rodeo, and I expect him to show poise even as his team is in a 0-1 hole.
In James's career, when his team loses a playoff series game in Rounds 1-3, his teams are 39-12 (76.5%) straight up and 33-16-2 (67.3%) against the spread, per the Sports Data Query Language database. He's only gotten better over time and with more experience, as he is 19-2 straight up and 14-5-2 ATS responding off a loss since the 2012-2013 season.
The Lakers are 18-4 straight up (81.8%) as road favorites this season (as opposed to being 20-10 as home favorites), per the SDQL. They have thrived on the road, especially when the market favors them to win. They seem to play with a chip on their shoulder and feed off the opposing fans' energy. I expect them to do the same in the Phoenix Suns Arena on Tuesday evening.
Booker Must Step Up for Suns
The status of Ayton and Paul will have a humongous impact on how this game will turn out. Ayton was a star of Game 1, scoring 21 points (off 10-for-11 shooting) and grabbing 16 rebounds (eight of which were offensive rebounds), thoroughly outplaying the Lakers' big men duo of Davis and Andre Drummond. If he is out for Game 2, the Suns do not have much big man depth behind him to match up with the Lakers, and Davis should easily have a bounce-back spot in that situation.
While it appears that Paul has avoided any major injury with his shoulder, he will likely not be at full strength. The jump shots he took in Game 1 clearly showed he was in pain, and this does not bode well for their chances in Game 2. Nonetheless, much of the impact Paul has on the court is with his leadership, defense and playmaking skills, so I do believe he will still be able to keep the Suns competitive.
Along with Ayton, Devin Booker was another X-Factor in Game 1, scoring 34 points off 13-for-26 shooting and picking up the slack in 45 minutes played. With Paul not at full strength, the Lakers will be able to pay more attention on defense to Booker, who may already be worn down from carrying the load in game one.
I believe the Phoenix Suns are the superior team when healthy, but the situational factors favor the Lakers in a huge way. With Chris Paul at less than 100%, this allows the Lakers to focus their attention on Booker. Paul will not be able to serve as an adequate decoy if he can't shoot the ball properly with a hurt shoulder.
I see Davis having a bounce-back game after game one's disaster and it will be a huge bonus if Ayton is suspended for the game. Finally, the "LeBron Factor" will be too much for the Suns to overcome. The line movement from Game 1to Game 2 is very telling and should not be ignored. My recommendation is to take the Lakers at-1.5, but not beyond the key number of two.
Pick: Lakers -1.5 (up to -2)