LeBron James and the Lakers could be down a couple of starters, including Anthony Davis, for a pivotal Game 5 contest against the Phoenix Suns. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)
- The LA Lakers and Phoenix Suns clash for Game 5 of their first round playoff series
- Anthony Davis (groin) is listed as questionable for this one
- Get the odds, preview, and pick below
For his career, LeBron James teams have never lost a first round NBA Playoff series.
With a short-handed roster and facing a whale of an opponent — that 14-0 mark is definitely in jeopardy.
After a 100-92 Game 4 win that evened their best-of-7 series 2-2, the Phoenix Suns return home for a pivotal Game 5 against a Lakers’ squad potentially down two starters in Anthony Davis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
The Suns are 5.5-point favorites Tuesday night.
Lakers vs Suns Game 5 Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+5.5 (-115)||+180||Ov 207 (-110)|
|Phoenix Suns||-5.5 (-105)||-215||Un 207 (-110)|
Odds as of May 31. Tip-off is Tuesday at 10pm ET
The big one here is Davis, who suffered a groin injury in Game 4, forcing him to sit the second half. He’s currently listed as questionable for Tuesday. The same goes for Caldwell-Pope, who was forced to miss Game 4 with a knee injury.
Chris Paul is still listed as day-to-day with a shoulder injury, but his condition looks far rosier after a stellar Game 4, than when he was severely limited in Suns’ losses in Games 2 and 3.
Anthony Davis (strained groin) is unlikely to play in Game 5 vs. Suns, per @ShamsCharania
He’s being evaluated day-to-day pic.twitter.com/QGzFOpCcWj
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 31, 2021
Lakers vs Suns Projected Starting Lineups
|Dennis Schroder||PG||Chris Paul|
|Wesley Matthews||SG||Devin Booker|
|LeBron James||SF||Mikal Bridges|
|Kyle Kuzma||PF||Jae Crowder|
|Andre Drummond||C||Deandre Ayton|
Paul Gives All
This is the Chris Paul we expected to see wreak havoc on the Lakers. A shoulder injury early in Game 1 severely limited him through the first three games. He even had to talk head coach Monty Williams into letting him play in Game 4, and he delivered, leading the team with 18 points and seven assist on 7-for-15 shooting from the field.
Chris Paul hits back-to-back buckets 😳 pic.twitter.com/USrR3SysFS
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 30, 2021
He paced a balanced attack, with all starters and reserve Cam Payne finishing with double-digit scores. Deandre Ayton continues to be a monster inside, going for 14 points and 17 rebounds. Through four games, Ayton is shooting a surreal 38-for-47 from the field — a blistering 80.9% clip — while averaging 13.5 boards per game.
Jae Crowder, who was a miserable 2-for-20 from three-point territory heading into Game 4, finally found the range, potting 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting, including three 3-balls.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) May 30, 2021
The cumulative effort produced meant Devin Booker didn’t need to go HAM, as he finished with 17 points on a light 5-for-14 shooting night. That’s the second straight game he’s gone sub-20. Expect the Suns to get their star going in Game 5.
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Who Runs With LeBron?
It might be too simple to state that the Lakers go as Anthony Davis goes, but that’s been the case in this series. Ineffective in Game 1 and injured in Game 4, LA averaged just 91 points in two losses. In their two wins, AD averaged 34 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and two blocks, with LA scoring 109 points in both wins.
“Like a runaway train.” 🚂 🚂 pic.twitter.com/pIYFuqNBAk
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 30, 2021
If AD can’t go, the focus will turn to LeBron James, looking the healthiest he’s been since returning from an ankle sprain late in the year. James finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds and six dimes in the Game 4 loss, though he also led the team in turnovers with six.
“These shoulders were built for a reason. If it takes for me to put some more on top of it, then so be it. Win, lose or draw, I’m ready for the challenge.”
– LeBron when asked if he can carry the Lakers if Anthony Davis is out Game 5
(via @MikeAScotto) pic.twitter.com/m8Isw7n8kp
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) May 30, 2021
He’s definitely going to need help – the Suns are a strong team defensive unit, and will jam the paint to stop LBJ drives to the tin. Relief could come in the form of Dennis Schroder, who was a non-factor in Game 4, finishing with eight points on 3-for-13 shooting. Marc Gasol has played his way into the rotation, and can facilitate in the high post, and went 3-for-5 from deep last game.
If KCP can’t go, LA will need others to connect from beyond the arc. LA shot just 13-for-40 as a team from three, a lowly 32.5% clip. That includes any and all of Kyle Kuzma, Wes Matthews, Alex Caruso and Ben McLemore.
What’s the Best Bet?
Even if Davis plays, he’ll be far from 100%, and who knows what he can bring to the table. James has been riding shotgun behind Davis’ usage, but it’s time for him to go playoff ‘Bron and engage from start to finish.
I know the Suns are 15-2 in their last 17 home games and an impressive 44-17 as a betting favorite on the year, while the Lakers are wounded, and just 6-9 ATS and 3-12 SU as away underdogs. Still, I’m expecting James to carry his club to a win. It’s not going to be pretty, but it will be when you cash in on those plus-odds.
Pick: Lakers ML (+180)
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgeable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.