The Phoenix Suns have dealt with some drama including sweeping the Spurs in the second round of the NBA Western Conference Finals. Their all-star point guard Steve Nash’s scary appearance should be less frightful as his stitched up eye heals.
The Lakers swept Utah and will be fired up at home on Monday night. Los Angeles too needed the week off to let their 27 point per game shooting guard Kobe Bryant strengthen his weak ankle and arthritic finger. Though his finger has bothered him before this year, it is rarely enough to keep him out of the spotlight
The Suns will match up against the Lakers at the Staples Center on Monday night for Game One of their Western Conference Series Finals. Tip off in Los Angeles is at 6PM ET
Currently, odds makers have the line set with the Lakers as six point favorites. Action on the Suns has moved the line down one point from where it opened at seven. The total has also been bet down to 210.5 from the opening number of 212.
Books know that recreational bettors tend to wager on a publicly popular team in a large market such as Los Angeles and will compensate for this action. Thus, the Lakers are often not a profitable play at the spread. Los Angeles was 34-46-2 at the spread this season. Phoenix on the other hand was 47-34-1, a profitable 57.3% at the spread team during the regular season.
Both teams have aggressive offenses, and if the Celtics – Magic match up is any indication of what it means to play post-season NBA basketball, a combination of both offense and defense are necessary to endure the two month long playoffs before making it to the championship series.
The Lakers held Oklahoma City and Utah to an average of 41% shooting, while Phoenix out rebounded and out scored Portland and especially San Antonio. Odds makers did not expect that the Suns would win their four games against the Spurs by an average of 10 points per game.
With the Lakers as heavy favorites going into Monday night’s game, it is important to note that Phil Jackson’s teams are 46-0 in post-season series after winning game one. Most sports books are offering -340 on the Lakers and +285 on the Suns as the series price. That number will skyrocket (maybe disproportionately) if the Lakers take Game One.
Though Phoenix has been able to negate size disadvantages, the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol duo is too much for any Western Conference team. The Suns lost three of four against the Lakers during the regular season. Steve Nash’s driving ability is of course a huge key to the Suns’ success, yet with two seven-footers down low, they should be able to plug up that driving lane.
Kobe Bryant does not let minor injury impair his game, and often the talk of something like a finger issue is over hyped. I saw an over / under proposition on Bryant’s points in Monday night’s game. With Bryant scoring more than 30 points per game in his last five games and averaging 27.5 against Phoenix this season, over 29.5 points for Kobe on Monday is an interesting proposition.