The Lakers are here. The Los Angeles team beat the Suns in the second game of the first round of the playoffs, regaining the advantage of the field and heading to Los Angeles with a 1-1 that completely changes the tables of the tie and confirms two maxims that always must take into account: the first, that you do not have to jump to conclusions from a game 1; and the second, that the pride of the champion has a dimension that sometimes we do not understand, but that is perfectly tangible with exhibitions like the one tonight. Frank Vogel once again showed that he is not the coach of the Pacers and did not change the starting lineup, but he did change the dynamics of the game and the way of moving the bench: he made changes before, he put Marc Gasol in the rotation with great success, he did not get primed with an Andre Drummond that made a great performance and he made the right decisions in the final moments of the game, with Anthony Davis, monstrous, playing five (where he does the most damage) and the defense well planted behind to stop an opponent who had more options than he deserved, but succumbed to the visiting power.
The first game had left rather bad feelings for the Angelenos, with a bad version of LeBron and a ghostly version of Davis. Of course, they only lost nine (99-90) against a team that was superior at all times but did not sentence at all in any of them. HI had things to recover for the second round And they were made, especially in relation to Davis: the star has a season to forget, without finding his game when he has been healthy and injured most of the time. But in the second game against the Suns, he looked like that man who defends anyone and produces like a machine in attack, an exceptional and timeless physique that destroys rivals and hogs everything it can on both sides of the court. Davis has added 34 points on just 15 shots (18 of 21 from personal), with 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal and 3 blocks. And a tremendous block to DeAndre Ayton in the fourth quarter, in which he has scored 14 points, 9 of them from the personal. In a word: exhibition.
The Suns were ahead in the first period (12-11) and did not regain the lead until the last period (88-86). In between, the advantages of the Angelenos were always around 8-10 points, with a maximum of 15; yes, they let themselves go up at the end and speculated too much, making the fans doubt the possible victory. The Suns, emboldened by their audience (the “beat LA” is sounding again with force), had their opportunity, but did not materialize in the final minutes, sentenced by a triple by LeBron, which put an already insurmountable 94-103 for Monty Williams. The most curious part was that Chris Paul only played 23 minutes (6 points and 5 assists), partly due to the good performance of Cameron Payne, who with his archaic shooting dynamics was the differentiating element that allowed his team to overcome. In the end, 19 points and 7 assists for the substitute point guard, which also had a great role in defense and was the calm in the nerves that gripped the wrists of his teammates, who barely scored 8 triples in 26 attempts (30%).
Start a new series
With the tie at 1, everything restarts. Now the series is the best of five games, but the field advantage corresponds to some Lakers who travel to Los Angeles with two duels ahead in which to track a tie in which their rivals will still have a lot to say. Of course, the bad luck of having in front of a rival of such magnitude having finished second in the regular season, it will be something inherent in the comments about a tie in which predicting a final result, by winner or number of matches, is (at least) daring. If Davis maintains the level, the Suns are going to have it complicated, and that they have not yet found the best version of LeBron, who set an acceptable performance, but without great fanfare beyond the aforementioned triple final: 23 points, 4 rebounds and 9 assists. Also, 24 points for Dennis Schröder, a pylon hammer that kept the Angelenos ahead throughout the game, and 15 + 14 from Andre Drummond, who brought energy and an incessant fight under the boards.
The Suns will have to win back the best Chris Paul to have options. They do have Devin Booker, who reached 31 goals, and with an Ayton who continues with his idyll at launch: 11 of 13 in field goals after 9 of 10 in the first match, with 22 points and 10 rebounds for him, but better defended than in the opening gameEither because of Davis’ final minutes or because of Marc Gasol (6 points with two triples), who displaced Montrzl Harrell (who did not play) and contributed quality minutes to the Los Angeles interior game, which needed it like eating. The level of Paul will be differential, as well as that of LeBron and Davis; for the Lakers this is essential, since they have a squad ready to surround their stars and not to play without them. Now, the series comes to Los Angeles, where the Lakers will play their first playoff game since 2013. And he does it with a clear statistic: 6-0 after a playoff loss since LeBron landed in Hollywood.. It’s glamor and Staples Center time. And it’s time for the Lakers, who are already here. Of course, to win the ring it is not enough to arrive. You have to stay. Lakers-Suns, 1-1 and to the mess. Keep the party going.