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Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns picks, predictions: Who wins NBA playoff series?

Arizona Republic logo Arizona Republic 5/21/2021 Jeremy Cluff, Arizona Republic
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The Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers face off in a Western Conference first-round NBA playoff series starting on Sunday.

Which team will win?

Check out these picks and predictions for the series between the No. 2 seeded Suns, who went 51-21 in the regular season and the  No. 7 seeded Lakers, who were 42-30 and had to beat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Play-In Tournament to earn their seed.

Anthony Davis et al. on a court: LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 09: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers is surrounded by Mikal Bridges #25 and Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half at Staples Center on May 9, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) © Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 09: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers is surrounded by Mikal Bridges #25 and Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half at Staples Center on May 9, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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Game 1 of the series is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Arizona time Sunday on ABC.

NBA playoff picks, predictions:

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Sportnaut: Lakers win series over Suns in seven games

Matt Fitzgerald writes: "If the Lakers are the seventh seed, they’re going to be a problem. In a best-of-seven with LeBron and AD healthy, Phoenix wouldn’t have enough firepower, as CP3 and Devin Booker get dealt a brutal hand in trying to lead the Suns back to prominence."

More: Phoenix Suns' 2021 NBA playoffs hype video features Charles Barkley, Dan Majerle

NBA.com: Lakers defeat Suns in six games

Scott Rafferty writes: "Phoenix's two-way dominance earns them a first-round matchup with the Lakers, who enter the playoffs as perhaps the scariest No. 7 seed in NBA history. It will be a big test for a Suns team that is short on postseason experience. Paul is no stranger to the big stage, having played 109 playoff games in his career. Ditto for Jae Crowder, who has appeared in 72 playoff games and played a key role in the Miami Heat's run to the Finals last season, but this will mark the playoff debuts for three of Phoenix's starters in Booker, Bridges and Ayton. With how important each one of them has been to Phoenix's success this season, the Suns can't afford for the moment to be too big for them against the defending champions."


Video: NBA Playoff Preview: Lakers vs. Suns (Stadium)

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More: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns NBA playoff series odds: No. 2 seed underdog vs. No. 7

Yahoo Sports: Lakers will beat Suns in six games

Ben Rohrbach writes: "Who can guard LeBron James is a question the NBA has been trying to answer for going on two decades now, but the Suns have in Bridges and Crowder a pair of wing defenders to at least try to limit the legend. We would also be remiss if we did not mention the indirect matchup of James and Paul, the two longtime friends who have played 369 combined playoff games over the years and never faced each other once. But who the hell guards Anthony Davis? There is no correct answer. Bridges, Crowder and Craig are giving up size in the post against the Lakers' bigger lineups, and Davis can work Ayton from the perimeter as a "small"-ball center. Saric, Frank Kaminsky or rookie Jalen Smith aren't going to be much help off the bench."

NBA.com: Lakers top Suns in six games

Michael C. Wright: "It’s a little weird to see a No. 7 seed favored over a No. 2 seed for the opening round, but the Lakers experienced some extenuating circumstances during the regular season due to James and Davis missing time with injuries. In Los Angeles’ Play-In victory against the Warriors, you could see in the second half the Lakers were starting to find some rhythm and cohesion. That will only improve as their first-round series progresses against the Suns."

Fadeaway World: Lakers take series in six games

Eddie Bitar writes: "In the end, considering all factors, the Los Angeles Lakers will defeat the Phoenix Suns in 6 games. The Suns will keep it close for most of the series, but the Lakers will finish off a 3-2 lead in a terrific Game 6 performance. The Lakers have the best player in the world and LeBron's pairing with Anthony Davis usurps that of Chris Paul and Devin Booker. As great as Paul and Booker will be, LeBron and Davis have too much size and that means they can affect the game in more areas. Losing to the Lakers in the first round won't be a disaster for Phoenix because Los Angeles aren't any ordinary 7 seed. Had LeBron and Davis remained healthy, like they are now, they would have been a top-2 seed. The Suns will need to be at an astronomical level to get the job done over the Lakers, but it is highly unlikely they will do that. LeBron and Davis are too dominant and they will progress to the second round after 6 hard-fought games."

More: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns first-round 2021 NBA playoffs schedule

Anyone picking the Suns vs. Lakers?

While you may have noticed a trend above with NBA writers and sites picking the Lakers to win, not everyone is going with Los Angeles in the first-round series (although it might seem that way).

The Athletic's John Hollinger picked the Suns to win in seven games.

ESPN's Bobby Marks also recently picked Phoenix to come out of the West in the playoffs.

“I’ve been in the belief that if you’re going to face this (Lakers) team, get them now. I really do,” Marks told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I don’t think LeBron (James) is healthy. I think he’ll be better than most players. You got (Dennis) Schroder who just came back, A.D. is still nursing his injuries here.

“If you’re going to face a team like the Lakers who are still probably the team to beat, get them in the first round and not the Western Conference Finals when they’ve gotten a few series already.”

In a roundup of predictions from the USA TODAY Network, some reporters also picked the Suns as either a "safe pick" or "bold pick" to make the Western Conference finals, which of course would mean that they would beat the Lakers in the first round.  

The Indianapolis Star's J. Michael even had Phoenix losing to the Philadelphia 76ers as his "bold" NBA finals pick.

The Arizona Republic's Duane Rankin went even further.

His "bold" prediction: The Suns over the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games for their first NBA title.

More: Series preview: Los Angeles Lakers size, experience vs. Phoenix Suns versatility, depth

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns picks, predictions: Who wins NBA playoff series?

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