It’ll be rebuilding squad versus rebuilding squad at the Staples Center today as the 21-31 Los Angeles Lakers host the 18-36 Phoenix Suns (10:30 p.m. ET Tuesday).
Los Angeles has found a groove as of late, winning 10 of its last 14 games following a nine-game losing streak. The Lakers’ defense has started to come around again, and the team is also moving the ball very well.
The Suns have struggled all year, and are now 3-12 in their last 15 games. Star shooting guard Devin Booker has played through a rib injury in the past few weeks, but is sitting tonight. Phoenix has continued to be an absolute disaster on the defensive end of the floor.
The Lakers are an obvious favorite at home tonight. However, the squad isn’t that far removed from its losing streak, and both teams having a lot of young talent lends itself to major highs and lows. We’ll analyze this game’s top storylines before picking how this matchup plays out, culmination with this preview’s betting predictions and picks.
Will Josh Jackson Continue His Hot Scoring Streak?
To be honest, Jackson is having a really rough rookie season. The Suns forward’s poor jump shooting and turnover problems have been a major source of frustration for fans of the team.
However, his offense has really started to take some strides as of late. He has scored at least 16 points in nine of his last 13 games. Before those games, he had reached that mark just four times in 39 games. Jackson still isn’t super efficient, but he hasn’t been inefficient and he is getting his numbers despite rarely playing over 30 minutes. Phoenix needs his production with Devin Booker out for this matchup
Jackson has been especially good against sub-.500 teams recently. Los Angeles certainly qualifies, so don’t be surprised if he explodes for 25 points or so. His jump shot is very streaky, though, so a good game is by no means a guarantee.
Which Team Will Have the Advantage in Fast Break Points?
Though both of these squads are not good overall, they both do a great job pushing the pace and scoring on fast breaks. Los Angeles ranks second in fast break points per game (17.0), while Phoenix is fifth (14.0). The Lakers and Suns both play at an extremely fast pace.
However, it’s tough to get consistent fast break production when the other team is converting their own transition looks. The time it takes to take the ball out of bounds and inbound it is usually just enough time for the defense to get in position.
The team that uses less time on offense, on average, is more likely to win this game. Neither of these teams thrive in a half-court offensive setting.
Who is the Suns’ Answer for Julius Randle?
Phoenix is a bad defensive team overall, but it is especially weak defending the power forward spot. Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss both need to fill out their frames a bit and are susceptible to brawnier big men.
Julius Randle is a physically imposing big man for the Lakers and it is likely that Bender and Chriss will get the defensive assignment on him. Randle has averaged 15.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists in just 26.6 minutes per game since the start of 2018.
The Suns’ bigs will need to keep Randle and his brute strength away from the basket, but that’s easier said than done. They must attempt to get him in foul trouble and throw well-timed double teams at the rising young big men.
Our Preview’s Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers Betting Picks & Predictions
Devin Booker’s importance to the Suns may be slightly overrated. He is a very good scorer who defends quite poorly. Meanwhile, Phoenix still has T.J. Warren and a surging Josh Jackson to anchor the offensive attack, along with other serviceable shooters and inside finishers.
Phoenix is obviously the worse team, but the Suns actually have a better record on the road than at home this season. Los Angeles isn’t a great home team, either. The Suns will play hard in this Pacific Division matchup without their star.
- The bookies have not yet posted their odds for this game but when they do the Suns will likely be around 8-point underdogs with most of our top recommended betting sites. Bet on the Suns + 8pts with one of the top firms such as Bovada, Intertops or 5Dimes.
- Without Devin Booker, the Suns will become a more defensive-minded team and could have a bit more trouble scoring. Los Angeles’ defense has also come on as of late. Our feeling is for a low-scoring matchup and so we’d probably be taking the under.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.