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LeBron Looks To Avoid First-Round Ouster

As of the time of this writing, the status of both Anthony Davis and Chris Paul is still up in the air for Thursday night’s Game 6. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, L.A.’s most competent perimeter defender, joins Davis in wearing a questionable tag due to a right knee contusion. Davis has a left groin strain that limited him to just over 19 minutes of action in Sunday’s Game 4 loss last time these teams met at Staples Center and kept him out of Tuesday’s 115-85 no-show completely.

Paul, who has been dealing with a shoulder problem all series and aggravated it by getting struck late in Game 5, won’t be 100 percent but is considered probable to play barring any setbacks. Suns head coach Monty Williams wanted to take a wait-and-see approach to see how he felt after treatment Wednesday and Thursday morning, but all signs point to Phoenix’s All-Star point guard suiting up and competing.

Conjecture is that Davis will try and gut it out as well since he’s so vital to the Lakers due to his size and versatility, but it’s unlikely he’ll be 100 percent if he plays. LeBron James, who has never suffered a first-round over the first 14 playoff appearances of his career, couldn’t do much to prevent his team’s downfall despite a 6-for-10 shooting night from 3-point range. The 36-year-old legend played a team-high 31:38, but sat out the final stages of the blowout and should at least be fresh here.

The fact is that he needs Davis to take some pressure off him and get his team some easy baskets and defense in the paint. Caldwell-Pope started but was held to just 15 minutes in Game 5, which allowed Devin Booker to continue his assault on the Lakers. Phoenix’s leading scorer led the way with 30 points, the third time in the series he’s reached at least that number, and it should be scary for L.A. that he was able to accomplish that despite making just two free-throws. By comparison, he shot 17-for-17 from the stripe in the Suns’ Game 2 loss.

Third-year Phoenix center DeAndre Ayton comes off his least productive game of the series but has already put his stamp on things by making 40 of 50 shots in the series. He took just three shots in Tuesday’s blowout and finished with only eight points but the fact he’s shooting 80 percent over the five games and averaging 17.4 points and 12.2 rebounds further illustrates how much the Lakers need Davis back since Andre Drummond, Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell just aren’t cutting it.

Keep an eye on Davis’ status throughout the day since we’ll probably get an inkling on his availability closer to tip-off. The books are taking a blind stab that James will prevail and force a Game 7, installing the Lakers as a 2-point favorite. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Phoenix placed as the expected winner if Davis is ruled out. BetRivers, FanDuel, DraftKings, Westgate, and Caesars have all taken that same stance, making L.A. the ‘chalk’ by a bucket. The expectation is that the betting public will not want to bet against LeBron in an elimination game.

Full Lakers Vs. Suns Odds At Sports Betting Sites

Bet TypeSpreads

The total has been set at either 207 or 207.5 at those sportsbooks, which is important since it’s the lowest one we’ve seen all series. The ‘under’ has gone 4-1 thus far since only Game 2 featured both teams surpassing the century mark. I’d stay away from such a low bar since I doubt we’ll see the Lakers struggle as much as they did the other night with or without Davis and they’ll pull out all the stops in attempting to survive.

My preferred player prop in this one is fading Paul’s scoring total, which has been set at 14.5 at FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM. Although I expect him to play, there’s always the threat he gets re-injured and envision he’ll be out there in floor general mode, running the offense and making sure the rest of the Suns get going.

Series prices at DraftKings have been set at Phoenix -286 after despite the Lakers being the defending champs, so if you believe they’ll stage a comeback, get in prior to Game 6 to cash at a +220 rate. You should ensure Davis is going to play before taking this leap.

About the Author
Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia has been a national writer for nearly two decades, covering NBA and college basketball as a columnist, analyst, handicapper, and bracketologist for CBS Sports, Pro Basketball News, and other outlets. Tony joined Gaming Today's team of sports betting writers in 2020.

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