NBA Picks: Lakers Eclipse Suns Late To Cover

Doug Upstone

Saturday, December 1, 2018 2:19 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 2:19 PM UTC

Years ago this was a pretty solid rivalry when Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant shared the court at the same time. But for the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers it might as well be a battle like Alvan Adams and Kareem-Abdul Jabbar used to have decades ago, that's how far away they seem from an NBA title.

Doug's NBA Picks: 5-2-1

Phoenix (4-18 SU, 8-14 ATS) at L.A. Lakers (13-9 SU, 9-13 ATS)Sunday, 3:35 p.m. ETFree NBA Pick: Lakers ATSBest Line Offered: GT Bets

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The Suns and Lakers franchises have hitched their wagons to different stars of vastly different age and accomplishments. Phoenix has decided to build around 22-year old shooting guard Devin Booker, who fits the profile of as the face of the franchise that works in the Valley of the Sun.

Similar to Phoenix, the Lakers had a youthful squad, but given their market, they needed a brand name that would bring attention and make them a playoff contender. This person would give them the potential to do some damage both now and in the future, chasing after the Larry O'Brien trophy. As you are aware, that person became LeBron James, who will be 34 later this month.

The NBA odds have the Lakers as home favorites for this matinee and they are 7-3 SU and 4-6 ATS in that role.

Suns Samplings

Phoenix has the potential to improve, maybe not so much this year, but down the road. Booker is one of the best young shooters in the NBA. Rookies Deandre Ayton, Josh Jackson, Mikal Bridges all have obvious talent and should be a part of the Suns' eight-man rotation for years if they stay hungry and continue to develop. And old man T.J. Warren (25 years old) is the team's second-leading scorer and anchor.

While all this sounds good, there is a hole as big as tray full sugar-glazed round donuts at Dunkin Donuts, with no real point guard. Phoenix waived veteran point guard Isaiah Canaan. This leaves Elie Okobo and De'Anthony Melton as the only two point guards on the roster, which is not what a young team needs.

There are social media rumors of the Suns being interested in Philadelphia's Markelle Fultz, who has physical skills but has the shooting touch of Lonzo Ball. With nobody to set the offense, little wonder the Suns are 1-9 SU and 3-7 ATS on the road, losing by 14.3 PPG.

Lakers Lens

As one might expect, the Lakers season has been like a coast to coast airplane flight passing through bad weather. Sometimes smooth and sometimes not. The Gold and Purple started 0-3, followed that up with a 2-2 mark and went thru a comfortable stretch of winning nine of 11 (5-6 ATS), before dropping two straight.

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🎥 Kyle Kuzma caught fire in the third, finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds #LakersWin pic.twitter.com/09PcIA5b4F

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) 1 de dezembro de 2018
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LeBron has expressed some internal turmoil, trying to lead and most importantly win, but also placing his new teammates in a position to have them take the big shots with his assistance. "That's the challenge of things I've been kind of battling with since the season started," James said after Thursday's win over Indiana (38 points in 38 minutes). "How much do I defer and allow some of our young guys to kind of try to figure it out, and how much do I try to take over games? I think tonight was one of those instances where they looked at me and they wanted me to close the game."

Though James understands what he needs to do, he also realizes for this team to grow, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball and other have to be key contributors nightly and want the ball in close games late.

The Outcome

LeBron and the Lakers will likely be lacking in motivation as double-digit favorites. But for NBA picks, when the fourth quarter starts, that will be LeBron time and he will lead his young teammates and show them how to close out games.

By the end of the contest, L.A. will be 15-5 ATS after a win by 10 or more points and the Suns will sink to 8-19 ATS against winning teams.

Prediction: Lakers 119, Suns 103
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