ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith picks the Suns to win series vs. Lakers – Arizona Sports

chris paul suns

MAY 30: during the second half of Game Four of the Western Conference first-round playoff series at Staples Center on May 30, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The first round matchup between the Suns and Lakers is tied at 2-2 and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith believes that Suns will defeat Los Angeles and advance to the second next round.

On Monday’s edition of First Take, Smith said that with Anthony Davis battling a strained groin, he is going with the Phoenix Suns to win the first round vs. the Lakers.

“With Anthony Davis and that groin injury, obviously is a very sensitive and very tender issue. And as a result of that, I don’t know who’s expecting him to be back,” Smith said. “And meanwhile, CP3 is literally making plays, making signature shots, and then looking into the cameras and saying, ‘I’m back’.”

In Game 1 of the series, point guard Chris Paul sustained a right shoulder contusion that was later reported as a stinger and has been battling to get back to being 100% against the Lakers.

Backup point guard Cam Payne has been filling in nicely for Paul as he is averaging 13.0 points, 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals in 24.3 minutes off the bench.

Smith went on to say that he has been impressed with Payne as Paul looks to get back to full strength for the Suns.

Suns’ center Deandre Ayton has been performing well in his first taste of playoff basketball for Phoenix and Smith has taken notice of that.

“I can’t say enough about Deandre Ayton because he’s a big boy who’s playing big. He’s a dude that is walking around, and he’s giving you 20 and 10 a night.

Throughout his first four playoff games for Phoenix, Ayton is putting up 19.8 points per game, 13.5 rebounds per game and 1.0 blocks per game against the Lakers.

Even with the series being tied at two games a piece, it seems as though the tide has shifted in Phoenix’s favor.

“The Los Angeles Lakers are in a world of trouble because Phoenix is younger, they’re fresher, they can run more,” Smith alluded to on First Take.

Smith added that when it comes down to key matchups in the series, he is giving the advantage to the Suns.

“Now it comes down to certain components. Do you have floor generalship? In CP3, yes, you do. Do you have a star that can deliver the goods from the perimeter? In Devin Booker, yes, you do.

“Do you have a big man that is better than average, that can go out and give you 20 and 10 a night and make his presence felt. Whether it’s scoring, it’s rebounding. It’s a nice combination of both. Do you have that? Yes. And do you have coaching? Yes.”

On the other side of the court, Stephen A. doesn’t see LeBron James and the Lakers with much of a shot in this first round matchup between Phoenix unless Davis somehow gets healthy soon.

“Without Anthony Davis, (James) doesn’t have a reliable, dependable weapon to finish for him while he’s trying to control pace. It’s a problem. I’m going to tell you right now unless Anthony Davis gets healthy. The Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James specifically will be going home for the first round.”