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The season will be on the line for the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night, and here at Cappers Info, we're making our free NBA playoff picks in the sixth game of the Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns.
Los Angeles Lakers (+1.5) @ Phoenix Suns
Saturday May 29th, 2010
9:00 ET, US Airways Arena
Los Angeles Notes: It's not often that you simultaneously use the words "Ron Artest" and "hero" together, but that's exactly what happened on Thursday night in Tinseltown. Artest snared an errant shot by G Kobe Bryant and flipped it off the backboard and into the hoop to send the LA faithful into a frenzy, as the Lakers topped the Suns 103-101 at the gun. That missed shot was about all that Bryant did wrong on the night, as he once again came up just shy of a triple-double for HC Phil Jackson's club. Over the five games in this series, Bryant is averaging 33.0 points, 9.6 assists, and 7.4 rebounds per game. G Derek Fisher really came up big as well, hitting seven of his 12 shots and seemingly coming up in a big way every time that the Suns tried to inch their way back into the game that LA once led by 18 points. It wasn't a fantastic shooting game for the Lakers, as 41.8 percent normally won't cut it, especially against the Suns. However, grabbing 19 offensive rebounds really helped matters, as did blocking ten shots. C Andrew Bynum was once again a disappointment in Game 5, as he shot 0/5 from the floor and scored just two points.
Phoenix Notes: HC Alvin Gentry has to be wondering what more his team had to do in the second half to knock off the Lakers at Staples Center. The bench players produced 29 points in the third and fourth quarters, as C Channing Frye scored all 14 of his points in the second half, while F Jared Dudley chipped in eight of his ten for the night. As for the starters, G Steve Nash had the best game that he has had all series long, scoring 29 points on 12/20 shooting to go with 11 assists against just a pair of turnovers. F Grant Hill (10), G Jason Richardson (12), and F Amare Stoudemire (19) all reached double digits in scoring as well for Phoenix. The Suns really still haven't hit their offensive potential, as we continue to say in this series. Once again, they failed to shoot above 50.0 percent from the field, and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc is very not-Phoenix-like. The Suns, typically one of the best free throw shooting teams in the league, will inevitably be kicking themselves for only going 20/29 from the charity stripe.
Trends of Note: The Suns do have the home team mojo in their favor, as the hosts are now 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS in this series. US Airways Arena has been a house of horrors for opposing teams as well, as Phoenix is 38-18-1 ATS there in its L/57 tries. The Suns have covered every NBA playoff betting line that they have faced since the opening game of the playoffs against the Trail Blazers. Los Angeles is 7-3 ATS in its L/10 games in the postseason as an underdog and is 5-1 ATS in its L/6 games after an SU victory. Saturday, for whatever reason, has also been a crucial day for both teams. The Lakers are 10-2 ATS in their L/12 games played on this day of the week, while Phoenix is winless in its L/7 in the same situation.
The Final Word: Was Thursday night completely demoralizing for the Suns? We tend to believe that the script is going to look awfully similar in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals as it did when the defending champions had to face Game 6 in Oklahoma City. There is no doubt that Phoenix is going to throw everything, including the kitchen sink at the Lakers on Saturday night, but there's something that tells us that this is where this series ends. Bryant is due to be rewarded for one of his near triple-double nights, and we think that he is going to be the difference maker again down the stretch in what should amount to be a very close game. In the end though, it'll be LA and Boston getting ready for the NBA Finals.
Prediction: Los Angeles 119 – Phoenix 117