Kyle Kuzma goes to the basket vs. the Suns

Lakers vs. Suns, Game 6, Three Things to Know: June 3, 2021

by Mike Trudell
Lakers Reporter

The Lakers (2-3) face the Suns (3-2) in Game 6 of their first round series in Los Angeles on Thursday evening. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet.

Below are three things to know ahead of the matchup:

INJURY UPDATES
After Wednesday’s practice, we heard from Anthony Davis after he missed the second half of Game 4, and all of Game 5, with a strained groin.

He added that when he’s tried to run and push off on the groin in pregame warm ups, it has has bothered him. It’s been OK when he’s gone through shooting drills and such, but it’s the movement that’s tough, as the groin is so central to everything.

Meanwhile, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed Game 4, and started Game 5 before being pulled in the second half due to his knee contusion, leaving his status similarly in doubt.

As such, the Lakers need to prepare as if they won’t have either starter, and hope for the best regarding a potential return from either.

THAT SECOND QUARTER…
The Lakers offense has really struggled in short stints throughout the series, especially since Anthony Davis went out, but the second quarter of Game 5 was one 12-minute struggle. They were outscored 32-10 in the period, which put the game out of reach, and put the Lakers into their first elimination game since they acquired AD.

How can they avoid similar droughts in Game 6? The most simple answer: knock down the open 3’s that are available due to Phoenix completely packing the defensive paint, often having five players with one foot in the lane. They’re overloading to try and keep LeBron away from the rim, and he’s making the right reads to spray the ball around to shooters, who will simply have to hit shots to give L.A. a chance. Phoenix isn’t going to vacate the paint until they have to, and even then, they may stick to their game plan and just force the Lakers to make shots.

CREATING TURNOVERS
Regardless of any potential improvement in the half court, the Lakers also have to find a way to generate turnovers against a Suns team that had only four miscues in Game 5, a ridiculously low number. That will open up transition opportunities, which has been a primary strength for the Lakers. Phoenix also won the Game 4 turnover battle, 16-10, though the Lakers forced 18 TO’s in Game 3 and had a 13-9 margin in Game 2.

Andre Drummond alone had four turnovers on Tuesday to match the Phoenix total, with LeBron adding three, and Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker two apiece as they tried to make plays against the settled-in Suns defense. If the Lakers can at least bridge that gap some, it can go a long way in Game 6.

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