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May 16, 2010 4:16 AM

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns

lakers.gif vs. suns.gif

Series Facts
Season Series: Lakers won 3-1
Last Playoff Match-up: 2007 Western Quarterfinals - Suns 4, Lakers 1

PREDICTIONS

Kyle Adams
Suns 4, Lakers 2

The Suns ended the regular season as the hottest team in the West, and, two series into the playoffs, they're still playing like it. With a week off, they've had a chance to heal and will likely get Robin Lopez back for Game 1 (Alvin Gentry said he'd be "shocked" if he didn't play). Of course, the Lakers are one of the toughest outs you can find in the NBA. The Suns can't match up with their bigs (though Lopez will play a vital role by rebounding and clogging the lane), but what they can do is outrun the Lakers and space the floor with their three-point shooters. Channing Frye will give L.A. fits, and Steve Nash will thrash Derek Fisher and the rest of the defense. When the Suns are playing at their best (that includes on defense), they're nearly impossible to beat. They've been at their best for months, and I don't see them slowing down now.

Robbie Gillies
Lakers 4, Suns 2

I've written a longer preview in my Lakers blog you can read here. But to sum up - the keys are the bench play, Jason Richardson and the pace of the game. Richardson has been amazing in the playoffs but the Lakers were able to stifle him during the regular season. If he heats up they'll be much tougher to beat. The Lakers need to get some production from their bench. If Lamar Odom can finally show up in the playoffs the Lakers won't lose. Basically, I expect similar results to the regular season where the Lakers controlled the pace and pounded the Suns in the paint.

Tanner Munroe
Lakers 4, Suns 1

The Suns have been playing extremely well lately so it's hard to pick against them, but it's almost impossible to pick against the Lakers who have succeeded in this exact spot plenty of times in the recent past. With Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson leading the way, the Lakers have two of the biggest names in the NBA, both of whom have become synonymous with winning. While the Suns may have a advantage in their ability to run the floor, I expect the Lakers' experience and solid defense to ensure that Phoenix never leads any game by too much. That means in the off chance that the Lakers are losing towards the end of a game, Kobe will have the chance to win it for his team. Everyone knows what happens when he gets that chance, so it shouldn't be surprising when the Lakers cruise through this series.

Jeff Briggs
Lakers 4, Suns 2

The Lakers size will give the Suns some problems. Getting Robin Lopez back should be a tremendous help in that department, but not enough to keep the Lakers' bigs from controlling the paint. Meanwhile Nash and the Suns' speed will give the Lakers a few problems. Ultimately I expect a hard fought series, but the Lakers are too talented, too experienced, and too big not to win this series unless everything falls the Suns way. I don't see that happening, and the Lakers will go back to the NBA Finals for the third straight year.

Samuel Chi
Lakers 4, Suns 1

The Lakers have the advantage in terms of size and experience. But their biggest edge is the ability to play defense, whether to choke off a run or get the stops late in a close game. In winning their last six playoff games, the Lakers held the Thunder and Jazz to 45% shooting or worse in all but one game (the closely fought Game 3, when the Jazz shot 48%). The Suns, who shot better than 50% in their four-game dismissal of the Spurs, will encounter much more resistance on the perimeter as well as in the paint.

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