NBA Odds, Preview, Prediction for Suns vs. Lakers Game 4: Can Phoenix Level the Series? (Sunday, May 30)
Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jae Crowder (left) and LeBron James.
- The Lakers look to take a commanding 3-1 lead on Sunday with their third straight win over the Suns.
- Phoenix has been hampered by a Chris Paul shoulder injury in Game 1, which has clearly affected his play since then.
- Joe Dellera breaks down which side he's backing in Los Angeles, delivering his analysis and betting pick below.
Suns vs. Lakers Odds
|Moneyline||+220 / -280|
|Time||Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via PointsBet|
After dropping Game 1 to the Suns, the Lakers have won two consecutive games to take a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven series with Game 4 to be played at the Staples Center on Sunday.
Will LeBron James and Anthony Davis take a 3-1 lead over Chris Paul and the Suns? Or will the Suns even this series at two games apiece before heading back to Phoenix?
Let’s break it down.
Chris Paul’s Injury Hindering Phoenix
The Suns have downgraded Chris Paul to questionable in advance of Game 4 due to the right shoulder contusion he suffered in Game 1. He’s been limited in both games since and although he may play, it’s unclear how productive he will be and if there will be any type of minutes limit. Keep tabs on his status using our Fantasy Labs Insiders Tool.
The Suns have struggled offensively in this series, scoring just 105.4 points per 100 possessions over these three games according to Cleaning the Glass. This is a massive deviation from the Suns’ regular season number of 117.7, which was sixth in the NBA. While anyone is expected to see a downturn against this Lakers’ defense, this is a 12-point swing that is worth discussing.
So what’s the issue?
Well, any injury to Paul is going to dramatically impact Phoenix’s offense. It puts more stress on Devin Booker to handle the ball and also means the Lakers can essentially play off of an injured point guard.
During this series, when Paul is on the floor, the Suns are scoring just 96.4 points per 100 possessions compared to 118.9 when he’s off, per Cleaning the Glass. He’s very clearly hampered by this injury and averaging just 6.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game on 38.1% shooting through three games.
The Lakers can sag off of him and focus on everyone else, especially because when you see Paul’s shot he consistently misses short — he’s not missing erratically, he’s hurt — and although it’s admirable he’s playing through this injury, the Lakers have taken advantage of it.
Lakers Continue Riding Dominant Defense
The Lakers have listed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as questionable for Game 4 after leaving Thursday’s win with a knee injury. Anthony Davis is listed as probable with a knee sprain, but he said, “There’s no chance I don’t play tomorrow,” when asked on Saturday about his status.
The Lakers are leading the way with their staunch defense and despite the Suns’ sixth-ranked defense during the regular season, Los Angeles is scoring 109.0 points per 100 possessions, which is just 1.9 points fewer than its regular-season average against the entire league, per Cleaning the Glass.
It feels like the Lakers are waking up and rounding into form. As an opponent, or even as the League you have to know it’s bad when James cracks a smile mid-game when he’s being guarded by Jae Crowder.
LeBron James doing LeBron James things. pic.twitter.com/EyZvO0yQb7
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 28, 2021
Besides LeBron and Davis, Dennis Schröder played great in Game 3 and scored 20 points. This is critically important. It means the Lakers can take some of the ball handling and scoring responsibility off of LeBron and AD and hurt the Suns if they try to double either of their two superstars. Moreover, if Schröder gets rolling, the Lakers can hopefully even out some of these advanced metrics.
Prior to Game 4, LeBron James is +49 points per 100 possessions in on/off splits. He may be the King, but this type of elite production is unsustainable relative to the rest of the team — the Lakers need some other players to step up to defend their title.
This game is critical for both teams.
The Lakers seemingly never lose back-to-back games with James at the helm, and a 3-1 series lead to retain home-court advantage after stealing it in Game 2 would be massive. The Suns want to even this series before heading back to Phoenix, where they can just win their home games to advance and hand James an unprecedented first-round exit.
Over the past five postseasons, home favorites of five or more points are an impressive 102-86 against the spread (ATS), covering by an average margin of 1.93 points, per BetLabs.
At the time of this writing, the Lakers are 6.5 point favorites. While this may seem to be a lot of points, with Paul hampered and the Lakers a bit under-seeded due to injuries, I think it’s appropriate.
Pick: Lakers -6.5