The Lakers- Phoenix Suns series has plenty of intrigue, even for an NBA scout who is home for the summer with his family after a laborious season of games and travel.
Game 1 of the Western Conference finals is Monday night at Staples Center, and this West scout said he'll watch every game.
"I would watch this series because it's a matchup of two different styles," the scout said. "It's the three-point shooting and pace of play by the Suns and size and length of the Lakers."
The Suns are a fun team to watch play, perhaps even the most entertaining one.
The Lakers are a well-oiled team with championship mettle led by Kobe Bryant and Coach Phil Jackson.
Phoenix led the NBA in scoring during the regular season (110.2 points), as well as field-goal percentage (49.2%) and three-point shooting (41.2%).
The Lakers ranked first in the NBA in defending the three-point line, holding teams to 32.8% shooting, and fifth in field-goal percentage defense, limiting teams to 44.6% shooting.
Those are just some of the things that the scout loves about the matchup.
"Don't be surprised if the Suns win a game or two because they can shoot the three-pointer so well," the scout said. "But in the end, the Lakers will win the series because size and length should win out."
The scout said the Suns run the most different type of pick-and-rolls in the NBA, upward of 50 a game.
Phoenix puts the balls into the hands of guard Steve Nash and lets him orchestrate the offense.
The scout broke down three pick-and-rolls that the Suns like to run:
"Fist-up small" — It's a middle pick-and-roll with Amare Stoudemire. Grant Hill starts under the basket and runs to the top of the lane to where Stoudemire has vacated. Hill goes north and Stoudemire goes south on what's called a "roll-rise."
"Fist-up short" — It's where the Suns centers goes from block to block while the other big (Stoudemire) sets a screen for Nash. That gives Nash extra passes to make to his bigs.
"Fist-up Houston" — The Suns run a middle pick-and-roll in which everybody else is outside the three-point line "lifted." Channing Frye, Phoenix's 6-foot-11 three-point shooting center, is lifted behind the three-point line. Defenders have to decide whether to help on Stoudemire's rolling to the basket or go out on Frye. The scout said it's like a doughnut — nobody is in the middle of the lane.
"Their spacing is so good that you have to decide who to help on and defend," the scout said.
The scout said the Lakers have to get back in transition defense, something their coaches have been preaching.
" Pau [Gasol] can't slap Kobe high-five after a pass," the scout said. "By the time he does that, Steve Nash has the ball down at the other end going in for a layup."
The scout said one thing the Lakers will look to do is go inside.
He said to look for the Lakers to frequently run "solo" for Andrew Bynum and Gasol, mostly on the left block so the Lakers can pound the ball inside
"In the end," the scout said, "I'm going Lakers in six games because they have the size advantage."
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