Bring on The Suns

The Phoenix Suns have won the Pacific Division title in each of the last three seasons, due in part to their success against the Los Angeles Lakers.

With the Lakers in the midst of their longest winning streak in nearly four years, though, the Suns' dominance suddenly appears to be in jeopardy.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Phoenix –1.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 225.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 69% of bets for this game have been placed on Phoenix –1.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

After gaining sole possession of the division lead for the first time this season, the Lakers look to extend their overall winning streak to eight games and beat the Suns for the third straight time as the division rivals square off in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Phoenix dominated its series with Los Angeles while winning all three Pacific titles between 2004-05 and 2006-07, beating the Lakers in 10 of 12 regular-season meetings during that stretch and eliminating them in the first round of consecutive postseasons in 2006 and 2007.

The tables have turned this season, however, as the Lakers (26-11) have won the first two meetings with the Suns and are seeking their first three-game win streak against them since winning five straight in the series Jan. 5-Dec. 21, 2003 - before Shaquille O'Neal's departure from Los Angeles and Steve Nash's arrival in Phoenix.

Overall, Los Angeles has won seven straight and 11 of 12 to take a one-half game lead over Phoenix (26-12). The Lakers' win streak is their longest in a single season since an 11-game run March 13-April 2, 2004.

Los Angeles extended its current streak with a 123-121 overtime victory at Seattle on Monday. In the Lakers' first full game without center Andrew Bynum, who is expected to miss two months with a knee injury, Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 48 points, including the game-winning basket in overtime.

He took 44 shots - 12 more than his previous season high and three fewer than his career high.

"Tonight was one of those nights where I kind of had to read the mood of the team," Bryant said. "Us kind of being a little deflated with (Bynum) going down, being a back-to-back, coming in on the road, it was one of those things where I just kind of wanted to be a lot more assertive."

While Bryant's performance helped preserve the team's win streak, it was clear the Lakers missed Bynum, who was averaging 13.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots while shooting 63.6 percent from the field.

"We're obviously going to have to put in a lot more work and practice, and refocus on defense now that we don't have Andrew down there," Lakers forward Luke Walton said. "We missed him a lot."

The Suns hope Bynum's absence will help them change their luck this season against the Lakers. They've lost the first two games in the series by an average margin of 14 points, and are just 1-5 against teams in the Western Conference that currently have at least 25 victories.

Although they are near the top of the West overall, the Suns have lost two of their last three games and six of nine on the road.

Phoenix, averaging a league-best 109.8 points, struggled offensively in a 97-90 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night. It was the Suns' second-lowest scoring performance of the season - four points more than they scored in a loss at Utah last Thursday.

"Our offense let us down and we couldn't stop (Clippers guard Sam Cassell)," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Give them credit, they defended well. Our offense, for whatever reason, just wasn't clicking at all, and we just didn't play well."

Nash is averaging 21.5 points and 8.5 assists against the Lakers this season.

Bryant has scored 27.0 points per game while shooting 51.4 percent from the field in the two victories over the Suns.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

More NBA Basketball Coverage from theSpread.com

 - NBA Basketball teams
 - NBA Basketball standings
 - NBA Basketball schedule
 - NBA Basketball scoreboard
 - NBA Basketball injuries
 - NBA Basketball matchups
 - NBA Basketball stats
 - NBA Basketball odds
 - NBA Basketball public betting chart
 - NBA Basketball news wire
 - NBA Basketball top stories
 - NBA Basketball trends
 - AccuScore NBA Basketball predictions
 - Expert NBA Basketball picks
 - Comments and discussion
 - Signup for theSpread.com daily newsletter
 - NBA Basketball Home

NBA Top Stories

Thumbnail Celtics vs. Cavs Game 4 Pick Will the Cleveland Cavaliers bounce back after an embarrassing loss when they host the Boston Celtics tonight in Game 4 at...
Thumbnail Warriors vs. Spurs Game 4 Pick Will the Golden State Warriors continue their dominance of the San Antonio Spurs when they meet up in Game...
Thumbnail Celtics vs. Cavs Game 3 Pick Will the Cleveland Cavaliers show any mercy to the Boston Celtics when the two meet in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight at...
Thumbnail Warriors vs. Spurs Game 3 Pick As the Western Conference Finals shift to the home of the San Antonio Spurs, will they be able to hang with the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the series tonight...
Thumbnail Cavs vs. Celtics Game 2 Pick Will the Cleveland Cavaliers cruise to another big win when they face the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight at...

NBA Headlines

  • CLEVELAND (AP) Boston Celtics star guard Isaiah Thomas has visited one hip specialist and plans to see others.
    Thomas, who is done for the season with a right hip injury he sustained in March...
  • SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Kyle Kuzma wasn't sure how things would play out when he announced plans in late March to test the NBA draft. The Utah Utes junior forward was well aware of the doubters and di...
  • SAN ANTONIO (AP) Manu Ginobili was swept away by the emotions of a sold-out home crowd serenading him with chants of ''Manu, Manu'' and rising as one for a standing ovation in the closing minutes ...
  • ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) The Orlando Magic have hired Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond to be their new GM.
    Hammond had been with the Bucks the past nine seasons.
    Magic president of...
  • INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) LeBron James had that look - faraway, yet focused.
    The Boston Celtics have his undivided attention.
    Following one of the worst postseason games of his career, Jam...

NBA Team Pages