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What it will take for the Lakers to beat the Suns in their first-round series

The Lakers begin their NBA title defense against the up-and-coming Suns.

2021 Play-In Tournament - Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers
Anthony Davis and LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament on May 19, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

After a late three-pointer from LeBron James against the Golden State Warriors propelled the Los Angeles Lakers into the postseason, they will meet the No. 2 seed Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs. James and Anthony Davis appear to be 100 percent after missing extended time during the season as the Lakers get set for their championship defense.

Lakers keys to victory

James and Davis lead an experienced Lakers team against a young Phoenix squad, immediately giving Los Angeles a slight edge. The players know how these games tend to go and more importantly, how to manage the emotions of the game. The Lakers haven’t had a lot of practice time together, but they faced a similar situation last year with the Orlando bubble and went on to win the title.

LA’s center rotation will have to contend with Deandre Ayton, a potential point for Phoenix to exploit. The Lakers also don’t have a great solution to individually defend Devin Booker, who is averaging 25.6 points per game this season. If Los Angeles can limit the damage Phoenix’s role players inflict, the Suns might not have enough firepower to match James and Davis.

Lakers vs. Suns series odds

Lakers: -180
Suns: +140

The Lakers are not your traditional No. 7 seed and the DraftKings Sportsbook series odds reflect that, tabbing Los Angeles as the favorite in to win the matchup. The Suns aren’t huge underdogs, but this has the feeling of short stay for Phoenix.

NBA Championship odds

Lakers: +250
Suns: +1500

Despite limping into the postseason and stars rounding into form, the Lakers are the favorites to win the West and second-favorite to lift the title, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. James has made nine Finals in the past 10 seasons, likely contributing to those odds. Phoenix has talent, but not quite enough to be a real problem for this Lakers team.

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