The new NBA In-Season Tournament has been a sight to see as teams and players across the league have upped their intensity in play with $500,000 and the NBA Cup being at stake. On Tuesday, the No. 1 seeded Los Angeles Lakers will be taking on the No. 4 seeded Phoenix Suns in the quarterfinal.
In order for the Lakers to reach the Semifinals there are five keys to victory that if the Lakers can accomplish they have a great chance at advancing to the next round.
5 keys for the Lakers to defeat the Suns:
1. Start the game off fast
Through 21 games a common theme for the Lakers has been the inability to start games off fast. More times than not they've been in a deep hole after the first quarter and a lot of energy has to be exerted to muster a comeback.
The Lakers have a point differential of -74 in the first quarter which is second worst in the NBA only ahead of the Chicago Bulls who have a first-quarter point differential of -76. With Kevin Durant and Devin Booker being two of the game's best scorers it's important the Lakers start with urgency and don't find themselves trailing by a large deficit at the end of the first quarter.
2. Shoot above the team's average from three
Three-point shooting hasn't been kind to the Lakers so far as they rank 30th in three-pointers made and 29th in three-point percentage. The Lakers' offensive identity starts with having success in the paint but if they are able to have a solid shooting night from distance it'll make the responsibilities of LeBron James and Anthony Davis even easier and more spacing on the court will be created.
3. Limit second-chance points
The Lakers have allowed a total of 2,383 points this season which is the most amongst all NBA teams. To solve this issue it's ideal for head coach Darvin Ham to have bigger lineups out on the floor to crash the glass and limit extra possessions for the Suns. Phoenix ranks fourth in 3-point percentage so the Lakers must stay alert on the perimeter and not allow the Suns shooters to get free.
4. Limit turnovers
Playing carefree basketball can certaintly hurt a team's chances of winning and prioritizing limiting turnovers will be key for the Lakers. They have the 5th most turnovers in the NBA and if the turnovers continue to be an issue this game could get out of hand rather quickly.
5. Involve Anthony Davis early
Anthony Davis has had his fair share of up-and-down games when it comes to offensive production and part of that has been due to the lack of touches he's been getting. With Jusuf Nurkic taking the assignment of guarding Davis the Lakers should make it a point of emphasis to get him the ball early and often.