The Lakers lost Game 1 of their first-round series against the Suns, and Charles Barkley isn’t surprised.
The Hall of Fame player and “NBA on TNT” analyst sounded off on Los Angeles after their loss to Phoenix. He said that despite being the defending champions, the Lakers aren’t the team to beat in the Western Conference this year.
“I’m watching all these idiots, fools and jackasses on television like, ‘Oh, the Lakers are the team to beat.’ I’m like, I don’t think that’s true,” Barkley said on TNT after the Lakers’ loss. “This notion that they can just show up and they’re going to win — nobody’s afraid of them.”
Barkley does have a point, as the 2020-21 iteration of the Lakers is different than the version that won the championship last year. That’s why they had to participate in the play-in tournament to win the No. 7 seed. Key rotation players Danny Green, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard and Javale McGee all left the team and their offense as a whole has regressed after being a top-10 unit in 2019-20.
Of course, part of that decline is because Anthony Davis and LeBron James both missed significant time late in the season, and that’s one element that Barkley believes is behind the Lakers’ recent struggles.
“They ain’t played real basketball in months,” Barkley said. “[Against the Suns], they played just like they did against the Warriors. The Warriors just played bad. Steph [Curry] didn’t have any help.”
Barkley would go on to describe the Suns-Lakers matchup as “a pick ’em series” but said that the Lakers aren’t playing well at the moment.
And Barkley believes if they want a chance to advance, they’ll need to rely on their two stars, James and Davis, to carry them to a series win.
“Those two guys gotta play great for the Lakers to win,” Barkley said. “They can’t put up good numbers.”
Scoring a combined 31 points on 11-of-29 shooting wasn’t enough for James, Davis and the Lakers to take home a victory in Game 1. Los Angeles will look for more from those two in Game 2 as they look to even up the series.
If they can’t produce, this could go from a pick ’em series to one that favors the Suns in a flash.
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