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Suns/Lakers Game 5 Preview

   by Matt Fargo - 05/26/2010

The Numbers



The Lakers are anywhere from -7 to -7.5 in this Game Five which is right around where they were favored by in Game Two at home. The total sits around 219 which is pretty close to where it has been the last two games. With the first four games of this series going ‘Over’ don’t be surprised to see this number go up higher.



Home Cooking



Home court advantage is important come playoff time and the home court has been a major factor in this series thus far as the host has won and covered all four games. The margins haven’t even been close which is rather surprising for a Conference Finals series.



The average margin of victory has been 12.8 ppg while the average cover has been 9.4 ppg so there has not been a lot of sweating taking place for bettors. The home team and the over, an ever popular square parlay, has cashed all four tickets thus far.



This trend has carried over from the regular season for the most part. In the four regular season meetings, the home team went 3-1 straight up and ATS with the lone blemish being the Lakers winning in Phoenix on Match 12th by six points. In total, seven of the eight meetings have been decided by nine points or more.



Offensive Fireworks



If you like offense, this series has been for you. As mentioned, all four of the series games have surpassed the total with scoring totals of 235, 236, 227 and 221. While the offenses have flourished with the Lakers shooting 53.2 percent and the Suns shooting 48.5 percent, the defenses will be the key going forward.



The Suns have played more zone defense the last two games so the Lakers have now seen it live and on film and have had a chance to practice for it, though Lakers coach Phil Jackson said they knew it was coming before Game Three. Surprisingly, Los Angeles has struggled, if you call shooting 48.8 percent shooting the last two games struggling, because its offense is made to beat the zone.



“The triangle obviously is an overload offense,” Jackson said. “So you basically take a zone into an overload, which is natural anyway. But the idea of the movement that comes out of the overload is important for us. And our movement was poor, was inconsistent.” The advantage goes to Jackson in prepping for Game Five.



Benchwarmers



The Suns bench erupted for 54 points in Game Four against the Lakers and that type of production will make things very tough for Los Angeles if it keeps up. Both teams are loaded with superstars but it is the reserves on both sides that could very well dictate this outcome and the Suns seem to have the depth edge.



Phoenix’ bench was outscored by the Lakers bench in each of the first three games and by an average of 7.3 ppg but the Suns outscored Los Angeles by 34 points on Tuesday and the five bench players hit a mind-boggling 62.5 percent on 20-32 shooting.



“You know, we’re not the most talented team,” Steve Nash said, happily playing up the Suns' underdog status, “but we’ve got depth and we’ve got to make that a staple of our success.” The Phoenix bench did average 30.5 ppg in Los Angeles the first two games so if it keeps that up, depth could reign supreme again.



Injury Concerns



Coming into this series, the big injury concern was on the Lakers side and Kobe Bryant as he is nursing significant knee and finger injuries. It has not affected him so far though as he has been sensational, averaging 33.8 ppg and surpassing 36 points three times.



The time off between the Semis and the Finals gave Steve Nash time for his eye to heal and open up after the nasty lump he took in Game Four against the Spurs. At the end of Game Three, he broke his nose and his numbers on Tuesday were down as he had a poor shooting night and dished out just eight assists. We will wait and see if the dings were the cause.



The torn meniscus in the right knee of Andrew Bynum is the big issue right now for the Lakers. He did play a series high 25 minutes in Game Four but he is no where near 100 percent and the Suns need to take advantage. He is well below his scoring and rebounding averages and his mobility issues are hurting Los Angeles on the defensive side.



Jackson Distraction



Lakers head coach Phil Jackson is gunning for his 13th NBA Title which is remarkable when you think about it. His name has been in the news the last few days but for something other than another championship quest.



Jackson is in the final year of his contract and rumors have started swirling. Last week LeBron James was supposedly house shopping in the Chicago suburbs and this week, the rumor has been Jackson heading back to Chicago to coach the Bulls once again and lead another superstar to numerous NBA Titles.



Those rumors were put to rest by Jackson. “I have not entertained any conversations about that right now,” Jackson said. Even though he declared this prior to the Game Four loss, it was smart of him to get it out there because the last thing the Lakers need is another distraction in a series that has turned the other way.

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