In a top-of-the-table clash between two Western Conference big shots, the LA Lakers head to Arizona to face the Phoenix Suns tonight. The Suns and the Lakers are 2nd and 3rd in the conference respectively. There is only a one-game difference between the two, and a Lakers victory would see them overtake the Suns for the second place in the standings.
This enticing matchup is just one of just two national TV games tonight and the Phoenix Suns will get an opportunity to beat the reigning champions for the second time this season.
LA Lakers vs Phoenix Suns: Injury Updates
The LA Lakers are suffering through several injuries this season. Their star forward Anthony Davis has played just 23 games and the it is still unclear when he will return. According to several reports, he could be sidelined for three more weeks and perhaps longer as the LA Lakers are moving cautiously while dealing with his Achilles injury.
Marc Gasol cleared health and safety protocols but was ruled out for their last outing due to conditioning purposes. Meanwhile, the team announced last week that veteran Jared Dudley has been diagnosed with a torn MCL.
And finally, in news that came as music to the ears of all the other title contenders, superstar LeBron James has been declared out indefinitely after he injured his ankle during the game against Atlanta. He was one of the frontrunners for the MVP this season and his absense certainly reduces his chances to win that award.
The Phoenix Suns enter this game with an incredible advantage over the injury-ridden reigning champs as they have little to no injuries to their roster. The Suns' starting lineup is entirely healthy and the bench is fit to play the game as well. However, Cameron Johnson didn't play in their last outing against Minnesota due to health and safety protocols and his status is questionable for tonight.
In other news, coach Monty Williams decided not to let Torrey Craig make his Phoenix Suns debut against the Timberwolves on Friday.
LA Lakers vs Phoenix Suns: Predicted Lineups
The LA Lakers' lineup will look vastly different now that James and Davis are both out. Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will retain their usual roles in the backcourt with Schroder running point.
Talen Horton-Tucker is expected to get LeBron James' minutes while Kyle Kuzma starts as the power forward in place of Anthony Davis. Considering Marc Gasol is out as well, Damian Jones will start as the center. Alex Caruso, Markieff Morris and Wesley Matthews are expected to get more minutes due to the compromised roster.
The Phoenix Suns will enter the game with their starting lineup intact. Chris Paul will start as the point guard along with Devin Booker to form the team's star backcourt. Mikal Bridges will be the starting small forward and Jae Crowder will play the role of the power forward.
Finally, Deandre Ayton will retain his position as the starting center. Dario Saric and Cameron Johnson have been the backup duo players as they both average double-digit points and get the most minutes off the bench.
LA Lakers vs Phoenix Suns: Predicted Starting 5s
G Dennis Schroder, G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, F Kyle Kuzma, F Talen Horton-Tucker, C Damian Jones
G Chris Paul, G Devin Booker, F Mikal Bridges, F Jae Crowder, C Deandre Ayton