The big matchup of the 2023-24 NBA In-Season Tournament’s West Group A will take place later today at the Footprint Center. The Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns will play their first game against each other. Both teams are the frontrunners for the West A group. The Suns are considered a contender to go beyond the tournament and win the championship, while the Lakers, while not quite as good, are dark horses that could be game-changers in a short tournament run, as they have the team colors to scare any team once they get going.토토사이트
The reason why these two teams are so strong is quite simple. They have two of the league’s most dominant veterans, LeBron James (39‧206cm) and Kevin Durant (35‧208cm). They’re not exactly old, and they’re coming down from their prime, but there aren’t many players you’d put above them. To prove it, LeBron is averaging 24.4 points, 5.4 assists, 8.1 rebounds, 1,4 steals, and 1 blocked shot in eight games this season, while Durant is averaging 29.3 points (5th overall), 4.6 assists, 6.6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1.2 blocked shots in eight games.
The phrase “LeBron at any given time, Durant at any given time” doesn’t apply to these two players, as they are still so integral to their teams. They both lead their respective teams in scoring. At his peak, LeBron’s “shut-down” was hard to stop, as his muscular, fearsome body would burst through gaps as fast as a guard and terrorize defenses when he attacked the rim.
He was also a decent shooter from three, mid-range, and beyond the arc, allowing him to bomb from inside and out. He was so good at so many things that he didn’t have to worry about scoring to get into the scoring race, and he was so good at reading and passing that he could have played point guard.
In fact, he’s won both the scoring and assist titles, so he’s had many seasons where he’s been the primary ball-handler and leading scorer for most of his career. In terms of versatility, he has the edge over Jordan. His primary position is number three, but that doesn’t really matter. He can read the floor better than most and has the power and athleticism to play power forward as well.
In the case of Durant, he’s more of a traditional small forward, but he can play power forward in some situations. He may not have the strength, but he still has the height of a big man. He is an all-around scorer, both inside and out, and his mid-range jumpers and three-pointers are considered to be his most dangerous weapons, as they can be difficult for defenses to control. He has a reputation as an all-time great scorer because he has the speed and athleticism you wouldn’t expect from a big man, including smooth ball handling.
However, the two teams have been on opposite ends of the spectrum lately. The Lakers have lost three straight games due to an injury to Anthony Davis (30‧208cm). Even though the Lakers have a deep roster, their most potent weapon is the one-two punch of LeBron and Davis. Davis is averaging 23.9 points, 3.3 assists, 12 rebounds, and 1 steal in seven games, and he’s more than a match for LeBron.
His presence on the defensive end is huge. His 3.3 blocked shots lead the league. Considering the second-place finisher, Daniel Gafford (Washington), has 2.6 blocks, it’s easy to see why Davis is such a tremendous blocker. His combination of height and mobility makes it difficult for opposing offenses to penetrate when Davis is on him.
His help-blocking is powerful, and his synergy on defense is unparalleled, even if it’s only for a brief moment to make an opponent hesitate. It’s a fleeting moment, but it has a huge impact on his teammates’ timing, double teams, and more. It was Davis’ insane defense that shut down the Golden State Warriors’ spacing offense in the playoffs last season.
Phoenix, on the other hand, returns Bradley Beal (6-foot-9). Devin Booker’s (27‧196cm) continued absence is unfortunate, but with Durant struggling to score on his own, Beal’s addition is a lifesaver. He’s just made his debut with his new team, so he won’t be able to fit in right away, but he’ll be a big help if he can distract Durant’s defense.
The Lakers are 5-0 away from home this season, and this is another road game. However, they are not without momentum. The Warriors won the first meeting between the two teams at Crypto.com Arena on March 27. Durant led the way with 39 points and 11 rebounds, but couldn’t overcome the Lakers’ Davis (30 points, 12 rebounds) and LeBron (21 points, 9 assists).
With Booker out, Phoenix will need the firepower of Durant and Beal, as well as the play of its centers. In the last meeting, Davis’s height dominated Jusuf Nurkic (29’1″) and Drew Eubanks (26’8″). If that happens again, it could be tough for Durant and Beal to put up high scoring numbers. Of course, that’s assuming Davis is able to play at full strength.
In addition to the Lakers and Phoenix, Group A of the West includes the Portland Trailblazers, Utah Jazz, and Memphis Grizzlies. With Portland’s win over Utah last weekend putting them at the top of the standings, this time around it’s the Lakers and Phoenix who are the group favorites. With the game counting towards the regular season standings and the tournament prize money and trophy on the line, expect a fierce battle.
Aside from the Lakers and Phoenix, there is another big matchup today. The LA Clippers, who have just acquired James Harden (34‧196cm) to form a super team, and the Dallas Mavericks, led by Luka Doncic (24‧201cm), will face off in the in-season tournament. Both teams are desperate to turn things around. The Clippers have lost three straight despite the addition of Harden, while Dallas was blown out by Toronto in their last game.