Free NBA Picks: L.A. Lakers at Phoenix Suns, Game 4 Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/25/2010
The experts always say that if the team without home-court advantage that goes home down 2-0 is ever going to win a game in a best-of-seven NBA series, it’s going to happen in Game 3 with the jolt of added intensity that comes from playing in front of the home crowd. But more often than not that disappears for Game 4.
The line: Lakers -2 (221). I’ve seen this at 1.5 at a few sites; I’ve taken the two off Bodog. Obviously if you are leaning toward the Suns you will want to shop around. Either way, this line has shot in the Lakers’ direction, as when it first opened it had the Suns as a one-point favorite.
Props: Kobe Bryant total points (31.5); Amare Stoudemire total points + blocks (25.5); Andrew Bynum total points (7.5)
How they enter: Of course Phoenix did win Game 3, and a lot of credit is being given to Alvin Gentry shifting the Suns to a zone in the second quarter. And in that quarter L.A. shot just 35 percent and scored only 15 points. "It took us a long time to figure [the zone] out," L.A.’s Pau Gasol said. "And they stayed with it, pretty much for I don't know how long. We made bad passes. We weren't sharp with our execution against the zone. We didn't make the ball work. We really never got it to go inside-out.”
That wasn’t the only reason for the win, of course. Amare Stoudemire finally had a huge game, putting up 42 points (he had 41 total in the previous two games) and 11 rebounds (he had nine combined in the previous two games). Thanks in large part to Stoudemire’s aggressiveness the Suns shot a whopping 42 foul shots to L.A.’s 20. Stoudemire himself made two fewer free throws than the Lakers combined.
Scouting report: There are two injury updates to be aware of for Game 4. Suns star point guard Steve Nash broke his nose during Game 4 (his face looks like a used piñata now). Nash won’t be wearing any type of protective face gear. He was stellar on Sunday with 17 points and 15 assists on one turnover in 38 minutes. There had been those in L.A. calling for Phil Jackson to put Andrew Bynum on the bench for a game, because that torn cartilage in his knee is rendering the big man ineffective and he’ll be needed against a much bigger Celtics front line (just assuming). Jackson did ponder sitting Bynum after the center played a postseason-low eight minutes in Game 3 with two points, two rebounds and four fouls. But Bynum is expected to play.
Key trends: The home team is 8-1 ATS in the past nine in this series.
The ‘over’ is 9-1-1 in L.A.’s past 11 overall.
Lakers are 2-7-1 ATS in their past 10 as a road favorite of up to 4.5 points.
The picks: Like I said, depending on which way you are leaning, shop around on this line. That half-point could be valuable. But I love the Lakers here. Jackson will have his team ready for that gimmicky zone defense. L.A. was forced outside when Phoenix switched and the Lakers set a franchise playoff record by shooting 32 times from three-point range and made only nine. Jackson said he had never seen that much zone in a playoff game before. Lamar Odom came back to earth a bit, but that was expected. But Robin Lopez isn’t going to score 20 points and shoot 80 percent from the field again. It really was one of those games where Phoenix did everything right – and still it was relatively close on their own court. So take the Lakers and the ‘over’.
As for the Kobe prop, I love the ‘over’ because Bynum has been rendered useless and Odom might be back to his 10 points a game – so Bryant will have to score more. Other than Game 2, when he turned into Magic Johnson, Kobe has easily eclipsed the 31.5 points. Also take the ‘under’ on Bynum, because I don’t see him playing much – especially if Stoudemire starts abusing him. Bynum has scored more than 7.5 points just once in the past five games. Stoudemire is again the key to Game 4. He’s not much of a blocked shots guy, as he only averaged one per game during the season. So really you are betting on whether he will score 25 points. He has only exceeded that number three times in these playoffs, and the Lakers will be all over him tonight. Take the ‘under’.
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