After years of playoff heartbreak, Paul is on the verge of first final with Suns – .

After years of playoff heartbreak, Paul is on the verge of first final with Suns – .

The Phoenix Suns are one win away from reaching their first NBA Finals since 1993 as they took a 3-1 lead over the Los Angeles Clippers with an 84-80 victory in the Western Conference Finals on Saturday.

Devin Booker scored a high 25 points as he rebounded a bit from a few poor performances in Games 2 and 3 of the series, although he still didn’t shoot well on the field.

Booker, who again started the match with a mask, quickly pulled it off after missing a shot. The mask was there to protect his broken nose, but it clearly bothered him and he seemed to be playing more aggressively and decisively without it, to the benefit of the Suns.

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Luckily for the Suns, DeAndre Ayton kept his game warm as he scored 19 points and 22 rebounds while playing almost 42 minutes into the game.

The Clippers had no response to Ayton’s physical play on both sides of the ball and, as has been the case with almost every game in the series now, Saturday’s affair was a hotly contested physical competition that lent itself to good to Ayton’s game. .

Shooting (from anywhere on the floor) during play has proven to be a key product and, arguably, the difference. Phoenix scored four more goals than the Clippers and shot a better percentage than them on the free throw line (85.7 percent vs. 65.6 percent).

Here are some takeaways from a decisive Suns victory on Saturday night.

Nice basketball this game was not

Even if you’re a defender, Saturday’s game was still pretty ugly. It was less of a good defense and more just a poor shot from both sides that led the two teams to combine to shoot just 34.3 percent from the ground, an even more terrible 9-on-51 (17.6 percent) from three points.

Obviously with shot numbers like this it’s clear everyone shot badly, but the stars of both teams were all particularly off as Paul George was only 5 of 20 off the floor and, a once again, missed a key free throw in the dying seconds of the game.

Meanwhile, Booker and Chris Paul combined to go just 14 of 44 from the floor, including a 0 of 8 mark from deep.

There was even an almost four-minute stretch midway through the fourth quarter in which neither team scored, the game ended in a 71-70 stalemate before Paul found Ayton in a alley.

In that streak, George went 0-for-4 on the field and Paul went 0-for-3.

To make matters worse, the last minute of the game turned into a free kick contest. Paul made five of six attempts, but the Clippers, as a team, only made it 4 of 8. Los Angeles tried to miss a few intentionally to score more, but it turned out to be a defenseless game and Los Angeles couldn’t convert.

Not exactly the most exciting ending.

A win is, of course, a win, and the Suns probably don’t care how it turned out, but that doesn’t exactly mean it was so fun to watch.

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Lawnmowers have the right to be crazy enough

The Clippers had plenty of opportunities to take the lead in the fourth quarter and come straight back into the series, but ultimately wasted their chances.

That said, however, the officials did them a disservice as a few key no-calls returned to hurt them.

Take a look at these two clips:

In the first it was very clear that Terance Mann had been fouled, but he did not get the call-and-one and in the second, while he was close, the ball appeared to come out of Cameron Payne’s hand, which would have meant additional possession from the Clippers.

Missed calls do happen, but what must be especially frustrating if you’re the Clippers is the fact that the Payne game hasn’t been reviewed. In an age of basketball when everything is looked at, it was very strange that this wasn’t the case, and while there was no way of knowing if the extra possession could have helped the Clippers, the non- examination seemed to hurt them.

Los Angeles has every right to be pretty upset right now.

Will Chris Paul finally break his strange curses?

Paul is set to make his very first final, but given his heartbreaking playoff record during his career, he’s understandably not so dizzy just yet.

In an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols immediately after the game, when Paul was asked if he was leading 3-1, he was keen to remind Nichols of the “bad experiences” he had 3-1 in. his career.

Paul, of course, is referring to the infamous collapse he suffered in the Western Conference semifinals while with the Lob City Clippers in 2015, when his team gave a 3-1 lead. to the Houston Rockets.

Additionally, in 2012, Paul, still with the Clippers, nearly lost a 3-1 lead to the Memphis Grizzlies, before securing a victory in Game 7.

In 2018, Paul technically broke his 3-1 curse while with the Rockets himself as Houston handled business against the Utah Jazz in the second round, but that then led, perhaps, to to the greatest grief he has suffered in his entire career. In his first appearance in the conference finals, he saw his Rockets team fail to shut down the Golden State Warriors after leading 3-2.

To make matters worse with this situation, an injury kept him out of Games 6 and 7, let alone Game 7, the Rockets sadly missed 27 threes in a row.

So you’ll have to excuse Paul if he’s feeling a bit superstitious right now, only a final win with a 3-1 lead to do so. Fate has not been kind to him in similar situations.


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