Even though the Los Angeles Lakers are the seventh seed, they are the favorites in their first-round matchup against the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns turned heads with their successful 2020-21 season, but the Lakers are well-equipped for a potential upset as they finally have their roster at full strength. While Los Angeles is widely expected to win, they will have to earn it as Phoenix is too good to bow out quietly.
What makes the Suns so dangerous is their potency from mid-range, an area the Lakers are normally happy to surrender. Anthony Davis admitted it will be a challenge defending Phoenix, who was the best mid-range team in the league this season.
“It’s different for our scheme because we like to allow guys to play in that mid-range and we try to take away the paint and the threes knowing that the league has become a 3-point shooting league,” explained Davis. “So we try to take that away but this team thrives on mid-range field goals. So it’s a little different for us but we know we can do it.
“We can adjust, for sure. But this team is a great shooting team, not just from the mid-range. They can also spread it out and hit a three as well. So it’s puts us in a little bind but our job is to just make them all contested and make them tough shots and we know they’re gonna make shots. They have some big-time shotmakers, big-time players. So we can’t hang our heads down when they make tough shots, whether it’s a two or a three. What we can do is get the ball out and run right back at them or like I said, contest all shots and if they make it then tap them on the ass and just get back down the floor.”
Davis is well-aware of how great of a jump-shooting team the Suns are and is already stressing that the Lakers need to come out with urgency if they want to succeed. The Purple and Gold match up well with Phoenix on paper but will need to execute to near-perfection on defense in order to advance.
James weighs in on defending Suns mid-range attack
LeBron James echoed Davis’ comments and credited Chris Paul and Devin Booker for the Suns’ mid-range success.
“They’re not good, they’re great,” James said. “They’re the No. 1 midrange team in the league and it’s because CP and Book are No. 1 and 2 midrange players in our league. We understand that and the playoffs is all about chess moves and it’s going to be a chess match back and forth. We’ll see who makes the best moves.”
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