Phoenix Suns take 3-1 series lead, seeking to get Paul into the finals
While being 3 up in the Western Conference Finals isn’t a guarantee to move on, the Phoenix Suns do look primed to finish an injury depleted LA Clippers this week. In Chris Paul’s storied 16 season career, never has he been on a team that was seriously contending for an NBA Championship.
“Not until the job is done. Not until the job is done,” Paul said after the Suns’ gritty 84-80 win over the LA Clippers on Saturday to go up 3-1 in the Western Conference finals. “We can talk about all that then, but right now, it’s just laser focus.
“Three wins don’t win the series, so right now, we did what we came here to do. We wanted to get one of these, and now we got to stay focused and be ready to go back to our crowd.”
With DeAndre Ayton and Devin Booker finding themselves as near superstar players, the Suns aren’t just primed to make the NBA finals, but they are arguably the favorites. While Paul may be surprised by budding superstars on the verge of an NBA finals, he has actually been here once before, and not too long ago.
After joining James Harden on the 2018 Houston Rockets, Paul and co found themselves up 3 – 2 in the Western Conference Finals. But then, it wasn’t meant to be. The Golden State Warriors who were fueled by Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry came back in the series to make it to the NBA Finals. This season however, that is not expected from the LA Clippers who find themselves down 3 – 1 in the series without an injured Khawi Leonard. Without Leonard now for the better part of the last two playoff series, it’s been shown that the Clippers just aren’t deep enough to win this series against a very strong Suns roster without him.
This should, not could, be Paul’s first trip to the NBA Finals.
Image credit – hoopshabit.com
The entire Phoenix Suns organization is playing inspired basketball to get Chris Paul to the Finals
It’s been clear throughout the season how much of an impact Chris Paul has had on the Phoenix Suns both on and off the court. While the Suns are now contending for a championship after not being a playoff team, the most clear evidence of Paul’s impact has been the evolution of Ayton and Booker.
Ayton, who famously was selected #1 overall over revelations like Luka Doncic and Trey Young, was previously an ultra talented, athletic 7 footer who was only good, not great.
“I love CP, man,” said Ayton, 22. “That’s really the only teammate that really pushed me. Like big-bro-type push.
“I think he was the best thing that happened to my career. I can say that every day.”
This season and NBA playoffs have shown just how transcendent a talent Ayton can be, and is frankly becoming. His ability as an elite rim protector who can play at the 3 pt line defensively, his elite rebounding and efficiency around the rim offensively is proving just how dangerous of a player he is.
Booker, who is regarded as the Suns #1 superstar is showing shades of Kobe Bryant in his game and impact on the offensive side of the floor. He even looks like Kobe in how he is moving confidently around the floor. Booker, who ditched his face mask after a broken nose earlier in the series, is delivering his end with Ayton in ushering Paul to his first NBA Finals.