The Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns will faceoff in a critical Game 5 tonight. The two-seed Suns led by Chris Paul and Devin Booker will need to make the most of their opportunities and continue a heightened level of defense. For the Lakers, it is simple. Anthony Davis and LeBron James have to show up and play like the elite players they are. Let’s break down the matchup heading into tonight’s game and see who can break the 2-2 series tie.
Through the first four games, the Suns have won when they keep LeBron and AD under 20 points apiece. In Game 1, the Suns kept the duo to just 31 points. 18 from LeBron and 13 from Davis. When they won Game 4, LeBron had 25 points and Davis left the game with an injury with just 6 points. Of course, that last game was helped along by Davis’ early exit, however, the point remains. When the Lakers’ two stars are limited on offense, Phoenix has taken advantage.
The Suns need to keep doing what they have been doing. Bring energy to the defensive end, spread the ball around, and keep Cam Payne engaged. While the Phoenix trio of Paul, Booker, and DeAndre Ayton has had success in this series, it has been their role players that lift them to victory. A big piece of that has been Payne’s emergence as a reliable backup guard. Since posting 5 points in Game 1, Payne has scored 19, 15, and 13 points in the next three games. Having a reliable scoring guard who can also pass the ball for a handful of assists is insanely valuable in the Playoffs.
The Lakers will most likely be without Anthony Davis tonight. That means that LeBron has to do a lot on offense to carry the Lakers to a victory. It would be nice to have a scoring outburst from Kyle Kuzma. The Suns need to keep spreading the scoring around, get their stars the ball when possible and stay engaged on defense. The game tips off at 10:00 PM tonight on TNT.