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For the first time since 2010, the Phoenix Suns took part in an NBA Playoff game Sunday afternoon. The environment was electric in Phoenix with Chris Paul and Co. going up against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of their first-round series.
In the end, Phoenix came away with an eye-opening 99-90 win over LeBron James and the Lakers. It was a game defined by one major spat in the fourth quarter and a couple injuries.
Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton did the heavy lifting for Phoenix. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis struggled big time for his Lakers. Here’s four takeaways from the Phoenix Suns nine-point win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of their first-round Western Conference Playoff matchup.
Absolutely insane home environment for the Phoenix Suns
It’s going to be a theme of the NBA Playoffs. Certain teams being able to host more fans due to local and state COVID-19 policies. A day after the environment in Los Angeles was pretty much par for the course during the pandemic when the Clippers hosted the Dallas Mavericks, things could not have been more different in Phoenix.
With an increased capacity of 11,000, fans at Phoenix Suns Arena were absolutely thrilled to see their Suns play their first playoff game since 2010. The environment was as electric as anything we’ve seen since the pandemic started. It gave the Phoenix Suns a true home-court advantage. Once this series heads to Los Angeles for Game 3, that likely won’t be the case due to the attendance limits in California. It’s going to be something to watch.
Los Angeles Lakers need more from Anthony Davis
Heading into the fourth quarter of Game 1 Sunday afternoon, Davis had registered a total of nine points on 4-of-13 shooting. Los Angeles was minus-13 in his 30 minutes of action during those first three quarters. It led to a stunning 13-point Suns lead.
We can talk about LeBron James’ lack of aggressiveness until we’re blue in the face. After all, he had put up just nine shots through the first three quarters and finished with 18 points. With that said, the Lakers are going to need Davis to perform like we saw in the Orlando bubble during last season’s championship run. Even when he was healthy during the regular season, this wasn’t the case. From what we saw Sunday in Phoenix, Davis’ ho-hum regular-season performance has extended to the NBA Playoffs. Scoring 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting isn’t going to cut it.
Impact of the Chris Paul injury to the Phoenix Suns
The future first ballot Hall of Famer scored three points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out five assists in the first quarter alone on Sunday. Unfortunately, he went down with an ugly-looking arm injury in the second stanza after battling for a rebound with James.
Paul immediately headed to the locker room before returning a short while later. While the legendary point guard attempted to tough it out throughout the remainder of the game, it was clear he wasn’t at 100%. Paul found himself in the locker room getting treatment in the second half, too. When all was said and done, he scored just seven points on 3-of-8 shooting. We’re going to have to wait for updates on Paul’s injury. But for now, it’s not great for the Phoenix Suns despite Sunday’s win.
Phoenix Suns take advantage of Andre Drummond
Some were surprised that Drummond drew very little trade interest ahead of the March 25 deadline. Here’s a dude who was averaging 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds with the Cleveland Cavaliers prior to being bought out. Unfortunately, those stats came with a caveat. That included struggling with the pick-and-roll as well as other basics on defense.
The Phoenix Suns took advantage of this in a big way on Sunday. Despite his injury, Paul was able to dish out a team-leading eight assists for a Phoenix squad that had 24 helpers. Deandre Ayton shot a resounding 10-of-11 from the field en route to scoring 21 points. Devin Booker torched the Lakers for 34 points. Simply put, Los Angeles needs to do something to mask Drummond’s issues on defense or simply just opt to sit him.