NBA Playoffs: Lakers, Suns Western Conference Final Preview

The Lakers are heavily favored to dominate this series from the get-go.

After ridding themselves of the Thunder in round one, and then cruising by Utah in round two, the Phoenix Suns are the last to stand in L.A.'s way of a third consecutive NBA Finals appearance.

It won't be easy for the Lakers.

The Suns are hungry. They have never won a championship title in their 42 years in the NBA. Never. Not once.

In 1976 and 1993, Phoenix made it to the NBA Finals but were sent home in six games.

The Suns have more to lose in this series, but they certainly do not have the attitude that they are just happy to be here.  

They want to win.

The Lakers have been here before. Bryant and L.A. thrive under this atmosphere. Kobe has four titles under his belt, while Phil Jackson has 10.

Phoenix is peaking at this point in the playoffs. In round two, Phoenix was able to man-handle the Spurs, who had upset the Mavs in round one. They've won six straight games.

But so have the Lakers. They are playing at a high level as well.

Kobe Bryant scored 30 plus points in the last five games. Pao Gasol is on fire of late, and with the two rested, the Suns have to be a little on edge in anticipation of how well they will do in shutting down the Lakers' duo.

Gasol has been as good as Bryant, collecting 33 points and bringing down 14 boards in the Lakers game four win over the Jazz. The big man averaged 23 points, 13 boards and 1.9 blocks in round two.

If the defending champions play the way they are capable of, Phoenix could be sent home in four or five games.

The Lakers defense will key on the one-eyed wonder, Steve Nash, but Jason Richardson will be the X-factor for the Suns coming into game one. Richardson has been the Suns MVP in the post-season, averaging 21 points and six boards. He's shooting 51 percent from beyond the arc.
Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers