Lakers vs. Suns gave what would have been an unexpected result at the start of the season. The defending NBA Champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs.
They were defeated by the second seed, Phoenix Suns, in six games. The Lakers definitely had their challenges going into the series, but the Suns undoubtedly deserved the win.
In his first-ever playoff series, Booker averaged 29.7 points, 5 assists, and 6.2 rebounds. He shot 42.9% from beyond the arc and 48.8% from the field.
Booker also had 47 points in game six to send the Lakers home. Booker is proving himself to be on a high level in his first postseason.
Of course future hall of famer, Chris Paul also played a big part despite playing through injury. The reasons listed are only things the Lakers could have done better.
The players mentioned above and Monty Williams are big reasons why the Lakers lost, obviously, but this article it’s just going to focus on what went wrong for the 2020 NBA Champions.
The three main things that cost the Lakers this series: Shooting, Injuries and underwhelming performances from LeBron James.
1. Lakers vs Suns: Poor Shooting Cost the Lakers
The Lakers struggles from three point range is no secret, however, their shooting in this series was even worst. They couldn’t knock down their shots and even wide open ones.
Could it have been a different series with more reliable shooting? Possibly.
The three-point shot is so important in today’s game that if you struggle with it, your not going to go far. It is crucial in every team’s offense, no exceptions.
How can the Lakers expect to win a series, and even another championship whilst shooting 29.9% from beyond the arc as a team.
When you look at the Lakers team, you can identify the better “shooters.” They are:
- Kyle Kuzma shot 17.4% during the series (He shot 36.1% throughout the regular season)
- Dennis Schroder shot 30.8% during the series (He shot 33.5% throughout the regular season)
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shot 21.1% during the series (He shot 41% throughout the regular season)
- Alex Caruso shot 29.4% during the series (He shot 40.1% throughout the regular season)
- Wesley Matthews shot 28% during the series (He shot 33.5% throughout the regular season)
- Ben McLemore shot 33.3% during the series (He shot 39% for the Lakers throughout the regular season)
It’s clear that the Lakers vs Suns saw a lot of players underperforming. As you can see above, they especially underperformed in such a crucial aspect of the game.
Lakers vs Suns: Injuries
You could argue that without injuries the Lakers would be in the second round of the playoffs and within a strong chance of repeating.
However, with basketball you can’t operate in hypothetical situations. This doesn’t mean we can ignore the Lakers’ injuries problems.
At least, Davis looked like he going to be the best player in the series until his groin injury.
Davis’ injury changed the whole series. He had a rough first game but bounced back in Games 2 and 3 to show that this was his series to takeover.
Davis had 34 points in each of those games and was dominating the paint. He only played 19 minutes in Game 4, until he suffered the injury. A massive loss for the Lakers, which arguably led to their inevitable defeat.
Davis tried to return for Game 6. Unfortunately, he could only manage five minutes before he had to step off the court. You have to commend the mentality of Davis to try to play through the pain.
Davis is a difference maker, not just for the Lakers vs Suns series, but for the Lakers’ entire playoffs hopes. He is one of the most skilled big men in the league’s history and unstoppable on his day.
3. Lakers Vs Suns: The Lakers Needed More From LeBron James
James wasn’t good enough. Lakers vs Suns saw LeBron James suffer his first ever first round elimination of his career.
He was previously 14-0 in first-round matchups. As we covered, James did not have enough help from the rest of the team.
However, he is arguably the best player in the world. He is one of the greatest players in the history of basketball. You are allowed to expect more from him.
He wasn’t as aggressive as he needed to be from the start, and he didn’t seem to have the mentality needed to win this series without Anthony Davis.
In fact, it’s fair to say that the King’s mentality was rather disappointing. He didn’t have the intensity you’d want from him on defense as well as offense.
One of the most disappointing moments was in Game 5. Schroder missed a layup that would have made it a five-point game with a minute and a half remaining.
Rather than get back on defense and set the tone for the team, James looked down in disappointment and didn’t get back on defense.
This led to the Lakers being outnumbered on the other end and a Jae Crowder dagger three.
There are more plays of James not hustling back on defense after disappointing plays, or missed calls. The Lakers needed more from their best player.
It’s unrealistic to expect James to do as much as he did for his underdog teams in Cleveland. He isn’t the same player he was then, he is in his 18th season and is 36 years old.
However, it not unrealistic to expect more than what he gave.
James averaged 23.3 points, 8 rebounds, and 7.2 assists. That is the lowest James has ever averaged scoring-wise in the playoffs.
Last year, he averaged 27.6 points, 9 assists and 9.1 rebounds.
Like mentioned before, a big part of the Lakers vs Suns was injuries. James was coming off an ankle injury, but it’s difficult to use that injury as a reason for his performance.
James’ mentality is coming into question, not just how he played the game. Also, James was catching lobs and executing tough finishes in previous games during the series.
We know he’s not 100%, but he looked like he could have played harder than what we saw. Although, it should be remembered that we don’t know the pain he feels and played through.
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