The Suns have fought tooth and nail to become a shell of their previous self and, in turn, have shown that they are not posers in these 2021 NBA playoffs, now they head back to Phoenix where they can take a 3-2 lead over an Anthony Davis-less Lakers
The past week has definitely been thrilling for the city of Phoenix, and the state of Arizona as a whole, probably because of their Suns proving everyone wrong and showing that they are not the pretenders that many analysts believed they might be in the face of 4x NBA MVP, and 4x NBA Champion, LeBron James.
Instead of bending to the will of the James and the 2020 NBA Champions, the Suns have proved that they can run with the best of the best and have the bench depth to sustain leads against great offenses. Now the series is tied 2-2, going back to Phoenix where they can take the 3-2 lead they desperately need to have before going back into STAPLES Center, Thursday, June 3.
And although injuries are never rooted for or fun to watch, there is a best-case scenario playing out for the Suns with Lakers’ superstar power forward Anthony Davis looking like he will miss Game Five with a strained left groin (video below), meaning the Lakers’ offense is going to once again have to flow mainly through 36-year old James and his rag-tag groups of young talent like Dennis Schröder, Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma.
That is not to say that James doesn’t have talented veterans around him to keep him comfortable, guys like 12-year veteran Marc Gasol and 8-year veteran Andre Drummond, who the Lakers added (likely at the behest of James) in late March, filling out the roster.
But, it is not these veterans that the Suns were playing scared of during games two and three of the series…it was Anthony Davis. Yes, it was Davis who played angrily and aggressively for every minute after the Game One loss to Phoenix last Sunday, and it was Davis who was making posters of anyone in his way and clowns of any player who tried to guard him
In games two and three of the series, Davis scored 34 points apiece, averaged 10.5 rebounds, and put the haters from Game One to bed with his assertiveness to get to the paint and his tremendous ability to get to the free-throw line (he had 35 free throw attempts combined throughout games 2 and 3), both necessary when playing high-powered offenses like the Suns who had the 7th-highest ppg (115.3) in the league this season.
Now it appears the Lakers are “not optimistic” Davis will be playing in Game Five against Phoenix, which is music to Suns’ fans’ ears because the fluidity that the Lakers offense has when he and James are both on the court makes it nearly impossible to put games away no matter how large of a lead one might have against them or how many fouls either superstar may have accumulated during the game.
But that’s just what the Suns did in Game One–and were doing in Game 4 before Davis left the game–they were beating the Lakers through the leadership of Chris Paul and the better shot selections by guys like Booker, Mikal Bridges, and Cameron Payne.
The way Chris Paul was playing during Game 4, where he ended up with a team-high 18 points and game-high 9 assists, left no shred of doubt that the Suns were going to win the game regardless of who was on the court defending him, even Davis who was 2-9 from the field and only had 6 points before going to the locker room early.
If Paul and the Suns can play to their strengths as they did in games one and four–mainly leaning on Deandre Ayton under the rim and Booker getting into the paint so effortlessly like he has all season–then there isn’t a team that can stop them until possibly Milwaukee or Philadelphia in the NBA Finals because of their stellar defenses and MVP candidates.
And with Davis likely missing Game Five, this is the perfect opportunity for Paul to silence the doubters once again and lead the Suns to another victory on the heels of efficient shot selections, better looks, and a more fluid offense that all starts with Paul’s decisions coming up the court.
According to ESPN the Suns have a 54.6% chance of winning Game Five and currently, Fanduel has Phoenix as four-point favorites (both based on Davis not playing Game 5); but, everybody knows that the NBA playoffs are always setting up major upsets and crazy narratives.
With that being said, there is one thing that is for certain: the Suns are legit, especially with a healthier Chris Paul, and can win this series with or without Anthony Davis suiting up for the Lakers. Although, it would be an absolute gift if Davis’ groin were to keep him sidelined for at least the next two games.
No matter what, this Suns team can rally when behind and can also keep up leads rather easily while also intelligently resting key starters and playmakers, all thanks to the hegemony of Coach Williams on the sideline and the veteran leadership of Paul on the hardwood.