With the Los Angeles Lakers getting set to take on the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, a bit of a rivalry will be renewed as these two franchises have faced off in the postseason 12 times.
Of those 12 meetings, the Lakers won eight of them and have an overall record of 38-24. When the two organizations meet for a 13th time this year, it will set a new Western Conf record for most times met in the postseason. Only Boston Celtics and New York Knicks at 14 and Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers at 21 have faced off more times overall in playoff history.
Here is a bit of a recap of how those series’ between the Lakers and Suns went:
2010 Western Conference Finals: Lakers win 4-2
The last time these two teams met in the postseason was 11 years ago, which is the last time the Suns were in the postseason period. It was a hard-fought series with the Lakers taking the first two games, dropping the middle two and then closing it out by winning two more before going on to win the franchise’s 16th championship.
Kobe Bryant was the man in that series, averaging 33.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 8.3 assists, hitting a number of big shots including an incredible fadeaway to close out the series, which led to an awesome moment of him patting Suns coach Alvin Gentry on the bottom as he ran back down the floor.
2007 WC First Round: Suns win 4-1
The 2007 series was much different as the Suns came in as the heavy favorites with Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire leading one of the best offenses in league history. Bryant put up a valiant effort, but in the end, the Suns closed out the Lakers rather easily in five games.
2006 WC First Round: Suns win 4-3
The 2006 series was similar to 2007 in that the Suns came in as heavy favorites, although this series was much more difficult for them. This was the series that Bryant hit his incredible elbow jumper to beat the buzzer in overtime in Game 4 to give L.A. a 3-1 series lead.
Unfortunately though, it was all Suns from there as they won the final three games to win the series.
2000 WC Semifinals: Lakers win 4-1
In 2000, the Lakers cruised past the Suns in five games in the second round before going on to win the first of three consecutive championships. This series was personal for Robert Horry, who was traded from the Suns to the Lakers a few years earlier after a fall out with the team’s brass.
Despite receiving strong play from Jason Kidd, in the end, Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Co. were just too much to handle for the Suns.
1993 WC First Round: Suns win 3-2
In 1993, the eight-seeded Lakers almost pulled off an improbable upset over the top-seeded Suns and Charles Barkley.
L.A. took the first two games thanks to strong play from Vlade Divac, James Worth, Byron Scott and others. Phoenix won the next three to take the five-game series though and went on to reach the NBA Finals before falling to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
1990 WC Semifinals: Suns win 4-1
Despite Magic Johnson averaging 30.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 12.2 assists, the No. 1 seed Lakers fell to the No. 5 seed Suns in five games in the second round in 1990. The Lakers won Game 2 but then dropped three straight.
1989 WC Finals: Lakers win 4-0
The 1989 series was much different than 1990 though as Johnson, Worthy and Scott all played well to earn the sweep and punch L.A.’s ticket to the Finals. Unfortunately though, that series was the complete opposite with the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons sweeping the Lakers to win it all.
1985 WC First Round: Lakers win 3-0
In 1985, the first-round matchup was perhaps the easiest series in Lakers postseason history as they had seven players in double figures and blew the Suns out three consecutive times by an average margin of victory of 20.33 points.
L.A. went on to defeat the Celtics in six games to win the title.
1984 WC Finals: Lakers win 4-2
The 1984 season was a very successful one for Phoenix by many measures as they went from being the No. 6 seed all the way to the WCF. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson, Worthy and the rest of the Lakers took care of them in six games though before losing to the Celtics in an epic seven-game Finals.
1982 WC Semifinals: Lakers win 4-0
The 1982 second round was another easy sweep for the Lakers before they went on to beat the Philadelphia 76ers in six games to win the championship.
1980 WC Semifinals: Lakers win 4-1
The 1980 postseason was the start of a dynasty for the Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar Lakers as in the former’s rookie season, they rolled through everyone to win their first of five titles in the decade.
Johnson averaged a triple-double in the five games against the Suns and then went on to play some center in the Finals when Abdul-Jabbar missed a game.
1970 West Division Semifinals: Lakers win 4-3
The 1970 playoffs were the first time these two rivals met in the postseason and Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Co. were able to take care of business in seven games.
L.A. won Game 1 before dropping three straight to put themselves in a 3-1 hole. The Lakers won in blowout fashion in the final three games though to take the series before eventually losing to the Knicks in the Finals
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