Western Conference Finals Game 6 reaction: Suns beat Clippers to win the West, and NBA title is probably next
The Phoenix Suns didn’t just end their 10-year playoff drought. They have made it all the way to the NBA Finals.
No team in league history had accomplished the aforementioned feat, but the Suns — whose last postseason appearance came in 2009-10 — did it and did it convincingly on Wednesday night. Phoenix bounced back from losing Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals at home by going on the road to dominate Game 6 against the Los Angeles Clippers 130-103.
From an individual standpoint, it means that Chris Paul is going to the NBA Finals for the first time in his 16-year professional career. Paul earned every bit of it, too, not only for leading his new team to a 51-21 record during the regular season but also because he exploded for 41 points in Wednesday’s clincher. The 36-year-old shot 16-of-24 from the floor and 7-of-8 from three-point range while dishing out eight assists and making three steals.
— NBA (@NBA) July 1, 2021
As for the Clippers, there really isn’t much to say. They did not play great in this series; they also didn’t play terribly. They simply played without Kawhi Leonard, and this best-of-seven set surely would have looked much different with the two-time NBA champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP on the floor.
It began in the bubble
Obviously, it was Paul’s arrival prior to the start of this 2020-21 campaign that ultimately put the Suns back on top of the Western Conference for the first time since 1993, but the foundations of this run were formed in the bubble. Phoenix famously went 8-0 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. last summer but missed out on the playoffs by one game.
They certainly didn’t miss out this year.
With another year of experience under their belt and joined by Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton have taken their games to new heights. Booker is a superstar in the making if he isn’t already there and Ayton is one of the best big men in the association. Ayton scored 16 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in Game 6.
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You have to like the Suns’ chances
Go ahead and give me the Suns against whichever team emerges from the Eastern Conference Finals. Both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks have flaws, and that is even when they are at full strength—which they aren’t right now. Giannis Antetokounmpo suffered a hyperextended knee in Game 4 on Tuesday. He is doubtful for Game 5 and his status for the rest of the playoff is up in the air. Trae Young missed Game 4 with a bone bruise on his foot and he is questionable for Thursday. Clint Capela is also questionable and the Hawks are already without De’Andre Hunter.
Moreover, the Suns will have at least five days of rest prior to the NBA Finals. Whoever wins the East won’t have more than two.
So far in the playoffs, Phoenix has gone up against the Lakers without (at times) Anthony Davis, the Nuggets without Jamal Murray, and the Clippers without Leonard. Next up could be the Bucks without Antetokounmpo or the Hawks without Young.
That’s not to say the Suns don’t deserve it. I’d pick them over any of those teams at 100 percent, too. It’s merely to say that the stars seem to be aligning.
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