NBA Picks: Lakers vs. Suns

Joe Catalano

Monday, March 18, 2013 12:00 PM GMT

With a 1 game lead over the Utah Jazz for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers will look to keep it going as they travel to Phoenix to play the last place Phoenix Suns.

Tip-off is scheduled for 10:00 pm ET, tonight at the Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Kobe’s Status

The NBA odds lines are currently unavailable due to the status of Kobe Bryant’s injury and illness. Bryant missed last night’s game against Sacramento due to an ankle injury and being under the weather. He’s listed as doubtful for tonight’s game.

Assuming that Kobe doesn’t play, this can be close to a pickem game. Los Angeles has won 8 out of its last 10 while the Suns have lost 4 straight games.

This is a game in which LA is the better team and although they just played last night, they need to suck it up, because every game counts when you’re currently in the 8th spot in the Western Conference Playoff race.

Superman is Back?

I wouldn’t go that far, but how ironic it is that Dwight Howard is carrying the Lakers after Kobe Bryant ridiculed him for not playing hurt. Now, Bryant is the one sitting and Dwight has been carrying the Lakers on his back.

In his last 5 games, Howard is averaging 19.4 points, 16.4 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks per game. This is a very small Lakers lineup without Pau Gasol in it, but Marcin Gortat is out and this is a good matchup for the Lakers if they play like they did against the Kings without Kobe Bryant. Look for Dwight Howard to play big in this game. Nobody on a weak Suns defense can matchup against him.

Picking Up the Slack

Steve Nash, Metta World Peace, and, Antawn Jamison will have to continue to play well with little rest.

At the beginning of the season, Mike D’antoni didn’t want to give Jamison the playing time, but Antawn Jamison is a big-time scorer as his 27 points last night can attest to. He’ll be a key figure in tonight’s matchup.

Steve Nash is coming off of a double-double and with Metta World Peace shooting the lights out, look for this offense to open up without Bryant dominating the scoring situation. Phoenix gives up 100.9 points per game. This situation couldn’t be more ideal for the Lakers.

The Morris Brothers

The Suns have been experimenting with the Morris brothers in the starting lineup and the experiment has been unsuccessful. Both Markieff and Marcus have shown flashes of talent, but Phoenix hasn’t found the right chemistry for winning up until the present time.

A Team in Disarray

Against the Wizards, the Suns bench outscored their starters 60-45. This is a team that who’s players don’t know their roles. Goran Dragic is the offensive leader at 14.1 points per game, but any other Sun can outshine him on any given night.

Although he still produces while on the court, forward Luis Scola has seen his minutes drop drastically while players like Michael Beasley can give the Suns a 20 plus point performance like he did against Washington and then is a non-factor in other games.

The three major issues here are, poor defense, lack of consistency on offense and the lack of direction in having a set lineup with a consistent amount of playing time for particular players. This is the perfect situation for Los Angeles to deal with without Kobe Bryant.

[gameodds]5/221882/43/us[/gameodds]

Outcome

Trends won’t come into play here without Los Angeles’ best player in franchise history. Even without Bryant, the Lakers are the far superior team. Kobe Bryant made a promise that the Lakers would make the playoffs and a win here will enhance their chances. Take L.A. for your NBA picks in this situation.

NBA Pick: Los Angeles Lakers at 5dimes