Brace yourself, there’s about to be a shootout in the cities of Los Angeles and Phoenix. The Lakers and Suns have met a total of 11 times in the playoffs with the Lakeshow winning seven. However, their last meeting in the first round of the 2006 playoffs is what is still etched in the minds of millions – most importantly Kobe Bryant.
After falling behind 3-1 in the series, Phoenix pulled off one of the greatest postseason comebacks in history by winning the next three games. Lakers fans haven’t forgotten that since. Nothing short of drama and nothing short of firepower, the present day match up is being billed as potentially the best series of the entire playoffs. With names like Gasol, Stoudamire, Nash and Bryant leading the charge, it very well could be.
One thing is for sure – Phoenix has had a hell of a run so far, but there are match-up problems they face, at least on paper. Thankfully for Phoenix, the Lakers aren’t the fastest team in the league and their bench has been known to disappear on occasion. While the Lakers, with home court and more size, deserve to be favorites, Phoenix could capitalize on the complacency that has been known to creep into LA’s season this year by potentially stealing the first game. The battle down low will get all the pub, but the x-factor remains Jason Richardson. Also, look for Channing Frye to play a big role in the series as well if Phoenix is to shock the world.
For the Lakers, controlling the tempo of the game is key. It’s how they have beaten teams for years. Limiting the Suns fun style of play and attempting to confuse and frustrate floor general, Steve Nash, is easier said than done. However, it is something that must be implemented if the Lakers look to advance to their third consecutive Finals. That said, the champs are the champs for a reason. They’ve been here before. Look for Kobe, Pau and company to try to take advantage of their size in the post early and often. And for Kobe to take over late.