LeBron James has never lost a first-round playoff series, but William Hill oddsmakers now list LeBron's Lakers as +155 underdogs on the series line vs. the Phoenix Suns (-180) after L.A. dropped Game 4 at home on Sunday and saw All-Star Anthony Davis injure his groin. The Lakers are 5-point underdogs for Game 5 back in the desert Tuesday as Davis is not expected to play and starting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also is in question. Oddsmakers are giving James an Over/Under of 26.5 points.
There has been some interesting movement on the series line for this matchup. Entering Game 4, the Lakers were -900 and the Suns +600. Alas, Davis went down in a heap late in the second quarter and Phoenix was a 100-92 winner Sunday to even the series at 2-2. On Monday morning, the Lakers were still slight -115 series favorites with the Suns -105. Then, news broke on Monday afternoon that Davis was expected to miss at least Game 5 and the series line shifted to its current number of Suns -180/Lakers +155.
In addition, the Utah Jazz are now the +190 favorites to win the Western Conference after taking a 3-1 series lead over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday. The Lakers are +240. Utah would face either the LA Clippers or Dallas in the West semifinals and this series winner either Denver or Portland.
In Game 4, Davis missed a layup with 48.3 seconds remaining in the second quarter and collapsed to the floor after landing. He would not return. In the two Lakers wins in this series, he's averaging 34.0 points and 10.5 rebounds. In the two losses, 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds.
Los Angeles went 11-7 during the regular season in games when LeBron played and Davis did not, but also consider L.A.'s record in that stretch against teams that made the playoffs was 1-6.
LeBron has acknowledged he will need to take a bigger role without Davis – James finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and six turnovers in Game 4. As noted above, William Hill gives him an Over/Under of 26.5 points for Tuesday, with the Under a -160 favorite. James has not scored more than 25 points since returning late in the regular season from his ankle injury.
As for Caldwell-Pope, he sat Game 4 with a bruised left quad and said Monday he felt better but is officially questionable. KCP hasn't shot the ball well in the series, making just 23.5% of his field goals and just 7.7% of his three-pointers (after shooting a career-best 41 percent from deep during the year), but he's a good perimeter defender and was the primary guy to guard Devin Booker.
Wesley Matthews started for KCP on Sunday. When Davis was out injured this season, it usually was Kyle Kuzma starting for him. Kuzma has been lousy this series, averaging 5.3 points on 24.1 percent shooting.
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