NBA

Western Powers Do Battle In the Desert

A matchup of two of the top contenders in the Western Conference this season is on tap on Wednesday night as the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Phoenix Suns for a preseason game. The contest is scheduled to tip-off at 6 pm ET at the Footprint Center in Phoenix.

These two teams met in the first round of the playoffs a season ago, with the Suns winning the series 4-2 before advancing to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks. Los Angeles has retooled quite a bit in the offseason and is hoping to dethrone its Pacific Division rival for the West crown this season.

The NBA odds for this contest on Betonline have the Lakers as a 1.5-point favorite, with the over/under set at 218.5 points. BetUS also gives Los Angeles the edge by 1.5 points, with the same 218.5-point over/under.

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Veteran Group

The Lakers are considered one of the favorites in the NBA this season after they loaded up on veteran players, bringing in Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo to join LeBron James and Anthony Davis in their quest for a second title in three seasons. As such, not all of that group will be playing in this game, with James and Westbrook both already having been ruled out of this one.

In Los Angeles’ preseason opener against Brooklyn on Sunday, coach Frank Vogel had Davis as a starter next to newly-acquired Kent Bazemore, Kendrick Nunn, and DeAndre Jordan, as well as third-year man Talen Horton-Tucker. Vogel isn’t looking to go into the regular season with any injuries to his key players, so don’t look for Davis to play more than the 11 minutes he did in the opener.

Instead, younger acquisitions like Malik Monk, Nunn, and Wayne Ellington will likely get a lot of time, as they try to carve out roles with this veteran-laden bunch. Monk led the Lakers with 15 points against the Nets, hitting three from beyond the three-point line.

Defending Their Crown

The Suns didn’t make a lot of changes in the offseason, and it’s hard to blame them, considering the group they had was just two wins away from the franchise’s first NBA title. Like the Lakers, Phoenix doesn’t plan on risking its biggest stars in the preseason, with the guard combo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker both sitting out. Center Deandre Ayton played in the preseason opener, but not for long, as he won’t need to be pushed before the regular season either.

The biggest addition for Phoenix in the offseason, guard Landry Shamet, played 22 minutes and scored 13 points in the Suns’ preseason opener against Sacramento. He and Cameron Payne form a nice backcourt, with Payne dishing out seven assists in the loss to the Kings.

Phoenix has a lot of high-energy pieces that usually come off the bench but should get significant time in this one, including Payne and Cam Johnson. Second-year forward Jalen Smith is also trying to earn a bigger role this season, and he recorded a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds against Sacramento.

Suns Earn Preseason Win

The Lakers’ best players are veterans who don’t need to give their all in the preseason. Meanwhile, Phoenix has young players who are ready to go hard no matter when they hit the court. That and playing at home is going to give the Suns the advantage in this one.

If you’re betting online on this contest, take Phoenix at home, and go with the under. It’s early in the preseason, so offenses aren’t exactly in sync yet.

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