5 reasons the Lakers will dominate Suns in the first round of the NBA playoffs - Lakers Daily

5 reasons the Lakers will dominate Suns in the first round of the NBA playoffs

Anthony Davis Lakers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

It’s official: After a bumpy, injury-riddled regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers are the seventh seed in the Western Conference.

That means that they will face the second-seeded Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

At first glance, it seems like a tough matchup for L.A. Phoenix boasts the services of future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul, as well as one of the more dangerous scorers in the league in Devin Booker.

However, the closer one looks at the matchup, the more one would have to conclude that the Suns are about to be dominated by the Lakers.

There are several reasons why this series should be easier than one may expect for the Purple and Gold.

1. Playoff Experience

Anthony Davis Lakers

Paul is a 16-year NBA veteran who has eons of experience. Although he’s never been to the NBA Finals, he has gotten as far as the Western Conference Finals and he’s also one of the game’s smartest players.

However, other than him, the Suns have very little playoff experience. In particular, Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges have never been to the postseason.

Experience matters when playing in the playoffs, as it serves as a form of preparation and can help calm a player’s nerves. In addition, a player who has solid playoff experience will know what to expect in terms of adjustments made, the increased intensity and the distractions that can occur off the court.

Virtually all of the Lakers’ rotation players have been to the playoffs at least once, and many of them have played in the postseason multiple times. That’s something that cannot be taught.

2. Paint Domination

Andre Drummond Lakers

When a team plays the Lakers, one of its biggest concerns is defending the paint. Even with all its injuries and health issues, L.A. finished the regular season seventh in points in the paint.

The Lakers, when healthy and in sync, are arguably the game’s most dangerous fast-break team. Unlike plenty of teams, the Lakers prefer to run for layups and dunks instead of looking to shoot 3-pointers in transition.

The Suns are mediocre at defending at the paint, as they finished 15th in opponent points in the paint per game. Even worse, they were 25th in the NBA in blocked shots.

Look for L.A. to feast in the painted area and get the Suns in foul trouble as a result.

3. Personnel to Slow Down CP3

Chris Paul and Lakers

Even in his mid-30s, Paul is still a player who has no real weaknesses and can almost single-handedly win games. The impact he has had throughout his career when going to a new team is immense.

However, in Dennis Schroder and Alex Caruso, L.A. has two defensive-minded guards who can at least make Paul work harder than he wants to.

Schroder and Caruso represent two different looks defensively. The former is a speedster guard who plays with a chip on his shoulder, while Caruso is taller and could therefore limit Paul’s ability to hit outside shots.

Also look for the Lakers to trap Paul at times and get the ball out of his hands, leaving little time left on the shot clock when he gets it back from a teammate.

4. Getting Healthy at the Right Time

Andre Drummond, LeBron James and Anthony Davis

For much of the season, the Lakers were snakebit by health issues. LeBron James missed several weeks with a severe high ankle sprain, while Anthony Davis was out for an extended stretch with a calf strain.

In addition, Schroder was forced to spend two stints in the NBA’s health and safety protocols and missed a handful of games as a result.

All three finally returned near the end of the regular season. Although James isn’t 100 percent yet, one figures he will get better, especially with three full days of rest before Game 1 against Phoenix.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel implied that James may be at or near full strength in a couple more weeks.

5. Championship Pedigree

Anthony Davis and LeBron James

L.A. has the pride and experience of being the reigning world champs, which should translate into a major advantage, as it will fight to retain its throne.

Oftentimes, a defending champion will look somewhat tired and complacent during the regular season, but once the playoffs start, it will suddenly possess a much higher sense of urgency.

The Lakers currently have 17 NBA titles, which is tied with their archrivals, the Boston Celtics, for the most ever. The organization would love to win another one this summer and pull ahead of the hated Celtics.

In addition, James’ quest to be universally considered the greatest NBA player of all time may be on the line. Winning his fifth championship by getting past three or four great teams, without home-court advantage to boot, would be a phenomenal boon to his already impressive legacy.

Simply put, the Suns are playing for respect and progress, while the Lakers are playing for history.