After the L.A. Lakers messed up our NBA picks, we’re going with the Phoenix Suns for Friday’s matchup at Staples.
Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Friday, October 22, 2021 – 10:00 PM EDT at Staples Center
Believe it or not, we do learn from our mistakes here at the home office. We had the Los Angeles Lakers in our NBA picks for Tuesday’s season-opener against the visiting Golden State Warriors, and it didn’t seem like a mistake at first, but then the Lakers fell apart late and lost 121-114 as 3.5-point home faves. They’ve got LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but sweet juniper berries, that’s not enough.
The Phoenix Suns lost their opener, too, falling 110-98 to the Denver Nuggets (+6 away) Wednesday night. That game wasn’t so bad, though. In fact, we’re more than happy to recommend the Suns for Game 2 this Friday night at Staples Center. Bovada (visit our Bovada Review) has just opened Phoenix as 2-point road dogs on their NBA odds board, in a game where perhaps the Suns should be favored.
Market forces dictate otherwise, of course. The Lakers are the public team in this contest, even though Phoenix kicked their butts in the first round of the 2020-21 playoffs, then made it all the way to the NBA Finals – which they nearly won. Anyway, FiveThirtyEight project the Suns to win by a single point, which looks about right to us.
Jeff Sagarin isn’t so sure. We don’t have his game projection yet at press time (those are usually made available on game day), but his team ratings at The USA Today have the Lakers valued 0.73 points better than Phoenix, so something like –3.5 makes sense for the home side. At least it does on paper; in real life, there’s a big problem with the Purple and Gold, and no, it’s not just Russell Westbrook and how he fits alongside James and Davis.
There’s Nothing On The Wing
That is a problem, mind you. Westbrook was the worst player for the Lakers on Opening Night, shooting 4-for-13 for eight points and posting a minus-23. James and Davis were each minus-2. They’ll probably figure things out in due time, but maybe not in time for Friday’s matchup.
The larger issue is the Lakers bench, which is missing some key players to start the new campaign. Talen Horton-Tucker (thumb) and Trevor Ariza (ankle) are both out indefinitely; Wayne Ellington (hamstring) and Kendrick Nunn (ankle) are both listed as day-to-day. This is not good. It means L.A. has to lean even more heavily on Carmelo Anthony (minus-1.5 BPM with Portland last year, as per Basketball-Reference), a recipe for disaster for four years running now.
That Suns loss to Denver was disappointing but hardly disastrous. Phoenix generated four more shots from the field and eight more from the free-throw line – they just didn’t make enough of them, while the Nuggets went 17-of-39 (43.6 percent) from behind the arc. If the Suns and Lakers play the same way Friday night that they did in Game 1, Phoenix will probably win. Make it a small bet just in case, and may the sphere be with you.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.