Suns at Lakers: Key storylines entering Game 4

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The stakes are high in Game 4 as the Los Angeles Lakers have one more game at home before the series shifts back to Phoenix.

The Lakers grasped the series lead, 2-1, following their Game 3 victory Thursday, winning by 14 points. The margin marked the largest win any of the teams have had in the series.

Anthony Davis has found his rhythm, dropping 34 points in two straight wins, which led all scorers in both games.

The Phoenix Suns couldn’t muster any points for long stretches in Game 3, as the Lakers finally made life difficult for Devin Booker, who had poured in over 30 points in the first two games at home.

Chris Paul’s health has been the overarching concern for the Suns. His shoulder hasn’t held up since it was first injured in Game 1, but he’s played through it.

Let’s look at key storylines for the series as it heads to Game 4:

The Lakers' health is uncertain

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Game 3 treated the Lakers well in terms of a double-digit win, but it came with some blemishes. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope left in the third quarter with a left quad contusion and has been ruled questionable. His defense on Booker has been stable, and it climaxed in Game 3 when Booker shot just 6-of-19 from the field for a series-low 19 points. Davis also suffered a left knee sprain and is also questionable after landing hard on his left leg upon blocking one of Booker's layup attempts. A win Sunday hands Los Angeles a 3-1 advantage heading back to Phoenix. They'd be in prime position to eliminate the Suns if they win Game 4, but the roster's health must hold up.

Chris Paul's health

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Chris Paul's injury luck in the postseason is as dire as they come. His shoulder injury, which transpired after colliding into teammate Cameron Johnson, placed Phoenix in a hapless position. Paul and Booker go hand-in-hand when initiating Phoenix's offense. With Paul looking as passive as ever since suffering the injury, it's made it easier for L.A. to hone in on slowing down Booker. The Suns can't win this series without a healthy Paul, and if the shoulder is still nagging him come tipoff time, they might be better off giving more minutes to Cameron Payne instead.

The Lakers need to start making 3-pointers

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles ranked 21st in the league during the regular season in 3-point percentage, converting on just 35.4 percent of their attempts. Through three playoff games, they rank 15th out of the 16 teams with a 3-point percentage of 27.6. Though L.A. has managed to neutralize their shooting woes by attacking the paint, that strategy may not pay off against future opponents if they advance to the next round. The Suns simply don't have the size advantage to rival Los Angeles, but the Lakers need to hit 3-pointers to diversify the offense. Wesley Matthews earned praise for stepping up and making shots when called upon, but they'll need more from everyone else.

LeBron James needs to keep being aggressive

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

James didn't look at attack the rim often in the first two games, but he flipped the switch in the second half of Game 3, Subsequently, the floor began opening up for everyone. The Suns began focusing on cutting off James' paths to the rim, but it allowed for players like Davis and Andre Drummond to have easier looks. James has won 71.4 percent of the 49 Game 4s he has played in, and the Lakers are 4-0 with James in Game 4 scenarios. As a smiling LeBron showed, the Suns don't have the matchups to stop him from succeeding. If he plays like he did on Thursday, L.A. should be in good shape.

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