The Los Angeles Lakers will not defend the NBA Championship that they won last year. Last night in the penultimate game of the series, the Phoenix Suns produced a stellar performance in the Staples Center in Los Angeles to eliminate the home team 4-2, thanks to a 113-100 victory.
Suns guard Devin Booker was their chief tormentor, producing a superb individual display to rack up 47 points for the Suns who took full advantage of Anthony Davis fitness woes to jump out to a massive lead in the first quarter.
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Any pretence that the Lakers could cope with not even a half-fit Davis was soon disproved as the Suns opened up a staggering 22-point first quarter lead over the Lakers, who could only muster 14 points during that opening exchange.
“He’s a terrific kid, he’s a hell of a player, but there’s no way he should’ve been out there.”
Chuck reacts to AD attempting to play through his injury in the Lakers’ Game 6 loss. pic.twitter.com/SJFbLmZIIl
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 4, 2021
In the second quarter, the Suns had extended that lead to 29 points and the tie looked effectively over.
Davis played for five minutes as it was clear that his injury was too painful to overcome. LeBron James netted 29 points, with 9 rebounds and 7 assists but for once even his efforts were nowhere near enough as despite a better performance in the second half, the Suns held on comfortably for the win.
Suns Shine As Devin Books A Ticket To The Next Round
For all the Lakers injury woes, nothing should detract from what was a brilliant display by the Phoenix Suns and in truth, since going 2-1 down in the series after Game 3, they have been superb.
The Suns have outscored the Lakers 328-277 in the three games since.
They followed up Game 5’s thirty-point victory with another by 13 on Los Angeles’ home court and there can be no doubt that they were not just the better team, but comfortably so.
Devin Booker has been their chief tormentor, racking up 94 points across those final three games, to fire the Suns through, although he has been ably assisted by Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder and Chris Paul.
The Suns move through to the second Western Conference Playoff Semifinal where there opponents were awaiting them having clinched their berth earlier in the evening.
— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) June 4, 2021
Jokic Has The Last Laugh As Nuggets Oust Trail Blazers
The Denver Nuggets will be the Phoenix Suns opponents in that West semifinal. Having taken a
3-2 lead in their previous game against the Portland Trail Blazers, thanks to a double-overtime victory, Nikola Jokic once again led his team to victory with the center connecting for 36 points, 6 assists and 8 rebounds.
He was ably assisted by Michael Porter Jr. with 26 points and Monte Morris, who made a very useful contribution of 22 from the bench.
Once again, the hugely impressive Damian Lillard was the Blazer’s standout player, with 28 points 13 assists and four rebounds, but ultimately it was some poor shooting in the final quarter that effectively did for Portland.
Having led by seven at half time, the Blazers looked set to take this series to the final game, but Denver clawed back four points in a gripping third quarter, but the Nuggets seized control of the game in the last 15, netting 28 points to just 14 from Portland to claim the victory.
There will no doubt be an inquest in Portland after the catastrophic fourth quarter performance from the team, which saw them go from being tied at 108 points apiece, to losing by 11 with just 3 minutes and 20 seconds left on the clock.
Hitting just 27.8% of shots from the field and missing all five three-pointers, the Blazers collapse was in stark contrast to the strong play of the Nuggets who were much more clinical in the paint, where Jokic dominated, and also from three-point range.
Jazz Await Winner Of Mavericks And Clippers
With the conference semifinals now almost all decided, there is just one final place up for grabs and the Dallas Mavericks are in the box seat with a 3-2 lead over the Los Angeles Clippers. The sixth game in that series takes place tonight in Dallas before the final game, if required, takes place in LA on Sunday.
Let’s now look at the odds on the conference semifinal game 1 matchups with BetRivers PA, focusing on the moneyline odds.
Milwaukee Bucks (+145) v Brooklyn Nets (-177)
Atlanta Hawks (+116) v Philadelphia 76ers (-137)
Denver Nuggets (+180) v Phoenix Suns (-225)
Looking at those bets, it is clear that the bookmakers feel the home teams have the advantage, but I am staggered that Bucks are such long odds against the Nets. Sure Brooklyn made light work of the Celtics, but the Bucks were imperious against the Heat and of the bets on offer for these games, that is the pick that is most tempting to me.