NBA Playoffs 2021: Devin Booker makes playoff debut as Phoenix Suns take on Los Angeles Lakers

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NBA Playoffs 2021: Devin Booker makes playoff debut as Phoenix Suns take on Los Angeles Lakers


The young stars of the Phoenix Suns didn’t hesitate the instant of their first playoff game, overcoming adversity to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1.

Devin Booker won a franchise record 34 points in his playoff debut, while Deandre Ayton topped the paint by 21 points and 16 rebounds. Even with team chief Chris Paul playing the majority of the game with a shoulder injury, a hungry playoff-hungry Phoenix team brought much more intensity than the defending Lakers champion to take a 1-hour lead. -0 in the series.

To learn more about the game, we offer some takeaways below.

1. Booker’s Franchise Record Playoff Debut

Booker has waited five seasons for this moment and the All-Star guard hasn’t let it go. Even in the face of adversity when Paul fell with a shoulder injury that put his availability for the remainder of the game in jeopardy, Booker upped his game to step up like big players do.

Booker led all scorers with 17 points at the half, shooting 8 for 14 from the field to give Phoenix a calming presence.

He only got better as the game progressed, totaling 34 points, the most in his playoff debut in Suns franchise history.

He had a stretch from the end of the third quarter to the fourth quarter where he scored 14 of 16 points for Phoenix to keep his team in the driver’s seat. His nine points in the fourth quarter prevented the Lakers from closing the gap in this game.

Booker’s 34 points were accompanied by eight assists and seven rebounds, shooting an efficient 13-26 from the field and 3v7 from a 3-point field.

The 24-year-old was ready for the moment.

2. Paul leaves the match with a shoulder injury, returns to play

The entire arena collectively held its breath when all-star goaltender Paul injured his shoulder in the second quarter. An awkward collision with a teammate forced the Suns leader to the locker room, leaving doubt about his return to the game.

When he reappeared in the tunnel to return to the bench, the crowd erupted to see that their All-Star would agree to return there.

Paul was diagnosed with a bruised shoulder and certainly looked to be playing with pain, but that didn’t stop the confident general from making clutch shots and keeping his squad in line for close a crucial first match.

Paul would finish with seven points, eight assists, four rebounds, one block and one steal, but his impact went way beyond the numbers on his stats sheet. His shoulder injury is definitely something to watch out for going into Game 2.

3. LeBron disengaged

Yes, LeBron James went for a near-triple-double of 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, and he even shot the ball efficiently too.

But something seemed amiss with the 36-year veteran, failing to flip the switch in the game’s biggest moments. The Lakers had narrowed the Suns’ lead to just seven points by the middle of the fourth quarter and it seemed like the perfect time for James to do what he does best to try and carry his team past the line. arrival.

Instead, he would only take three more shots for the rest of the game, missing all three attempts while distributing no help in the process.

As we now know, Los Angeles is going like LeBron, and the all-time great didn’t have the energy level to get the job done in Game 1.

4. Davis surpassed

It was far from the best performance of Davis’ career in the playoffs, hardly making an impact from the start.

As one of the best players in this league and LeBron’s Batman Robin, the Lakers desperately needed more intensity from their All-Star forward.

Davis scored just seven points in the first half, shooting 3 for 9 from the field, settling for jumpers instead of attacking in the paint. The defensive physiognomy of the pair of Jae Crowder and Deandre Ayton in the Suns frontcourt prompted Davis to avoid the interior battle, both doing a fantastic job of making life difficult for the superstar.

Davis scored just 13 points, shooting a rough 5-for-16 from the field. He had fewer total rebounds (7) than his counterpart Ayton had offensive rebounds (8).

He was completely dominated by the more energetic young star making his playoff debut.

5. Ayton also shines in his debut

And speaking of… Booker wasn’t the only young Suns star to steer the moment in their first playoff game – Ayton was brilliant in this one, too.

His defense against Davis has been mentioned before, using his size and mobility to match that of the eight-time All-Star. And even when he wasn’t scoring Davis, Ayton did a great job as Phoenix’s rim protector to play a key role in keeping the Lakers just 44 points in the paint.

His impact was felt on the glass with a top-level 16-board game and it resulted in a double-double effort, scoring an effective 21-point score while shooting an almost perfect 10-on-11 on the pitch.

Ayton’s 16 rebounds were the most scored by a player in his playoff debut in Suns franchise history.

He was active around the basket on the attacking side, always giving either Paul or Booker a lob target as a safety valve whenever they stepped into the paint.

It was a more than impressive first playoff appearance for the former No.1 overall pick.

6. What’s the next step?

The Suns and Lakers will have a day off before returning to battle in Phoenix on Tuesday, May 25 at 10 p.m. ET for Game 2.

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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