After winning a thrilling Play-In Tournament game against the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers will turn their attention to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs.
The Suns are the league’s most improved team and that is largely due to the arrival of Chris Paul. The future Hall of Famer steadied a young Phoenix squad that already had talented players in Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton and led them to the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed.
It’s no secret that LeBron James and Paul are close friends, and the 36-year-old noted playing against him will be reminiscent of his battles with other high-IQ basketball players. “It’s going to be comparable to playing against [Rajon] Rondo in a series, playing against Draymond [Green] in a series,” James said. “You have those highest world IQ-type guys and fierce competitors at the same time. It’s the same thing.
“Every time I faced Rondo in the past, I knew I had to be not only my A-game as far as my game but also my mind as well and it’s the same with Draymond every time you go against those [Golden State] Warriors teams. I’ve had experiences with those two guys, so that will definitely help me in matching up with CP because I know the competitor and the IQ of the basketball player that he is.”
James, Paul, Rondo and Green are widely considered to be the smartest players in the league and it will be a chess match from the get-go between the two veteran stars. James and Paul in a playoff matchup is a basketball fan’s dream and it will be exciting to see them take turns moving pieces around their respective boards.
The forward called going up against Paul a ‘beautiful thing’ and their first-ever playoff battle should be a memorable one.
James on scouting report for Suns
The Suns are a dangerous team and James made sure to give them their due when discussing what the scouting report entails. “First it’s just the respect factor,” James sad. “They’re the No. 2 team in the league for a reason. Won 51 games and there’s a reason because of that. They’ve surrounded CP and Book with a supporting cast that has been playing at a high level all year.
“They got a great Big 3 in CP, Book and [Deandre] Ayton and the rest of those guys are a star in their role. We got to be able to understand that and match that. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
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