Apr. 7, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward (16) Pau Gasol drives to the basket against Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris in the second half at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Lakers 125-105. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Los Angeles Lakers(20-25) vs. Phoenix Suns(15-30)

Homecoming for Steve Nash, the Lakers are in town, the game is going to be nationally televised on ESPN, doesn’t get much bigger than that. The Suns will take on Steve Nash and the Lakers tonight at the U.S Airways Center in downtown Phoenix. Coming into the game, the Lakers have won three straight games and will look to win a fourth however the Lakers have lost their last two games in the valley including last April when they lost to the Suns 108-125.

“(The Suns) were very apprehensive and didn’t want to do it,” Nash said at the time regarding his trade. “Fortunately for me, they reconsidered. They saw that they were able to get assets for their team that will make them better.”

Heading into tonight’s game, the Lakers are the favorite over the Suns by a 3.0 point margin. The Suns will be without back-up center Jermaine O’Neal. O’Neal is still dealing with his heart issue and has yet to practice since discovering his illness, and as for the Lakers they still got Steve Blake listed as day-to-day but Blake returned in the Lakers win last night against the Hornets.

Keys to the game: Suns

– No turnovers! This a staple for the Suns from this point forward! The Suns ARE SIMPLY NOT GOOD ENOUGH OFFENSIVELY TO BE ABLE TO MAKE UP FOR 15, 18, 20 TURNOVERS EACH GAME! In the Suns last two games in which they lost against the Spurs and Mavericks, the Suns turned the ball over  a total of 35 times leading to 45 points for the opposing teams.

– Defend the 3-point line! Suns fans should know as well as anyone, in the Mike D’Antoni offense players have the ultimate green light to jack up threes.

– Play physical basketball! The Suns are outmatched in every way tonight, at every position, and even the bench. If the Suns want a shot at winning this game they’ll need to be physical with the Lakers and hopefully take them out of rhyme.

Keys to the game: Lakers

– Pick and roll all night long! All night! Marcin Gortat and Goran Dragic has struggled a lot as a tandem when it comes to defending the pick and roll; good individual defenders but unimpressive pick and roll defenders. With Steve Nash running the show, expect to see some great pick and rolls from L.A, conducted by the BEST pick and roll point guard in NBA history.

– Roads woes! The Lakers has been awful on the road, owning a 5-15 road record; one of the worst marks in the NBA; the Lakers have lost seven straight games on the road.

– Fatigue? This game will be the second of a back-to-back for the Lakers as they faced the New Orleans Hornets in L.A just last night.

The X-Factor!

– Crowd emotion! Tonight will without a doubt be one of the most emotional nights in the Suns franchise history! When Nash played his final game as a Sun last April, it seemed like many fans knew it was Nash’s swan song but nonetheless most fans still held a glimmer of hope in their heart that Nash would still be in a Suns jersey this season. With a wild-up, emotional, and loud crowd, perhaps the two time MVP and his Lakers won’t with a fourth straight tonight at the U.S Airways Center…

Match-up of the night!

– Teacher vs. Student, or rather, Steve Nash vs. Goran Dragic. Dragic was Nash’s understudy for many seasons in Phoenix, and it’s pretty imminent that Nash was a huge factor in Dragic’s growth as an NBA player. Dragic will get a chance to hold his own tonight in front of the Suns home crowd tonight against the Nash-maestro; the last time Dragic played against the Lakers, they were without Nash, and Dragic recorded 22 points and seven assists in the Suns loss.

“Every player wants to play well, especially against Steve because he is one of the best point guards,” Dragic said.

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers NBA Phoenix Suns

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