As the NBA regular season comes to a close, there is still so much left to be decided—Especially out west. With only two games left, the Los Angeles Lakers (41-39) are the Western conference 7-seed, but they still have a chance to avoid a play-in scenario if they win-out in addition to getting help. On Friday night, they’ll host the Phoenix Suns (45-35), who have cemented themselves as the Western 4-seed. With the game airing nationally on NBA TV, tip-off from Crypto.com Arena is schedule for 10:30 p.m. ET.
Being that this is game 80 of the season, the injury report is quite full. Since the Suns cannot move up or down in the standings (and are on a back-to-back after defeating Denver on Thursday), they are erring on the side of caution; Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton will all be out on Friday night. T.J. Warren is also out (illness).
The Lakers enter the game against Phoenix banged up similarly to how they have been all year long. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are both questionable with foot injuries, but I would expect them to be ready come game time. D’Angelo Russell also has some soreness in his left foot, but he is probable. Scotty Pippen Jr. (ankle, doubtful) is the only other player on the injury sheet.
At DraftKings Sportsbook, the Lakers are heavy 12.5-point favorites against the Suns. On the moneyline, LAL is priced at -800, while Phoenix is +575 to pull off the upset with all their stars sitting out. The point total is set at 225.
Suns vs. Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET
Pick ATS: Lakers -12.5
Essentially, this game means everything to the Lake Show while not holding very much significance to the Suns. LeBron & Co. would greatly prefer to jump up from the 7-seed, avoiding any postseason play-in game. For that to happen, they’ll need to win both (vs. PHX, vs. UTA) left in addition to seeing Golden State lose just one of their remaining two (at SAC, at POR). Hence, I think James, Davis, Russell and the rest will look to hit the gas pedal against a Phoenix team that is sitting a majority of their key contributors.
At home, the Lakers are 21-18 (20-18-1 ATS). On the other side, the Suns are 17-23 SU when travelling, yielding a 20-19-1 ATS record on the road. With these two sides, there does not seem to be much middling. If they win, they cover; If they lose, they don’t.
Over/Under: Under 225
Los Angeles has surrendered an onslaught of points over their past four games, but I think that comes to an end Friday night against Phoenix. Considering the Suns will be without their offensive firepower (solar power, if you will), I think they’ll have a tough time keeping up their end of the scoring for this total to go over. The Lakers will need to buckle down on defense sooner than later, and given that James understands the urgency around this game, I think the Lakers suffocate the Phoenix offense.