Phoenix Suns stagger the Lakers: 7 takeaways from Game 1

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Lakers 99-90 in Game 1 of the teams’ first-round series, and there is plenty to digest.

Phoenix Suns Game 1 takeaway No. 1: Devin Booker is elite.

My goodness, Devin Booker scored at will. Booker’s 34 points on 50 percent shooting gave everything the Suns needed. Including outscoring LeBron James and Anthony Davis by himself. The Los Angeles Lakers had no answer for Booker. As I said earlier this season, Booker will need to score at a higher volume these playoffs. In his playoff debut, Booker has done just that.

Phoenix Suns Game 1 takeaway No. 2: Deandre Ayton is the X-Factor

Deandre Ayton had 21 points shooting 90.9 percent along with 16 rebounds. Absolutely dominant. While I do not expect this for the entirety of the series, anything close to Ayton’s performance in Game 1 is enough. Ayton’s three personal fouls were impressive considering the Lakers’ plethora of talented bigs. Ayton will need to continue his lack of fouls as the Suns need his physical presence. Ayton’s eight offensive rebounds made a difference, leading to extra shots for a Suns’ win.

Phoenix Suns Game 1 takeaway No. 3: Rebounding

Against a bigger team with great rebounders such as Davis and Andre Drummond, the Suns outrebounded the Lakers by 14 rebounds. A massive portion of this can be accredited to Ayton, but it was a great team effort on the glass showing spirit. Continuing a rebounding effort of this caliber will be important against a bigger team.

Phoenix Suns Game 1 takeaway No. 4: 3-point defense

The Suns held the Lakers to 26.9 percent on their 3-point attempts. Restricting the Lakers’ 3-point shooting will hurt James and Davis. If James and Davis do not have reliable shooters around them, it will make life difficult for the pair.

Phoenix Suns Game 1 takeaway No. 5: Chris Paul needs to be healthy

Let’s not fool ourselves. Even though the Suns still came out on top, Chris Paul will need to be healthy. While Booker was able to hold off the Lakers in the fourth quarter with his tough shots, Paul’s help will be a must. There will be games in which Booker cannot get his shot to fall. This is where Paul will step in. Paul normally dictates the fourth quarter more with his mid-range shot. Today, his shoulder was restricting that. Without Paul’s shooting ability, the Suns will be toast. Let’s all hope this injury is not serious.

Phoenix Suns Game 1 takeaway No. 6: The Suns have room for improvement for the role players

Yes, despite the Suns playing a great game, there is still room for improvement. Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder and Cameron Payne shot a combined 30 percent. Usually, their production is higher. Crowder can be inconsistent but is due for one of his nights where he cannot miss. Expect these three to ramp up their output throughout the series.

Phoenix Suns Game 1 takeaway No. 7: The crowd

The fans in attendance were incredible. By far the best crowd this season. There was not one quiet moment as you could feel the excitement of making the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

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