Dropping 47 in game-six elimination, Devin Booker came out firing against LeBron James and the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers.
In his first playoff appearance since being drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 2015, the two-time All-Star looks determined to prove he belongs in the conversation of the NBA’s best players.
If you told me a few years ago the Phoenix Suns would soon become the first team to eliminate LeBron James in the first round, I would’ve laughed in your face.
The turnaround of the franchise is absolutely incredible.
— Evan Sidery (@esidery) June 4, 2021
This current iteration of the Phoenix Suns is built to help him do exactly that, with Chris Paul at the helm of the offense, and complementary play from the supporting cast.
In six games, he’s averaging 30 points, six rebounds, and five assists, with near 50/40/90 splits, shooting 49 percent from the field, 43 percent from the 3-point line, and 94 percent from the charity stripe.
Another year in Monty Williams system, and adding CP3 has finally pushed Booker and the Suns to become a playoff contender, after years of consistent finishes near the bottom of the Western Conference. They finished 8-0 in the bubble, closing out the 2019-20 season just five games under .500 in Monty’s first season. But trading for one of the greatest playmakers in the league history in November, Chris Paul has given the Suns consistency next to Devin, who has fully taken to Paul being his backcourt partner.
“Uh oh” – Devin Booker yells it twice to the fans courtside after Chris Paul hits a jumper to put the Suns up 14
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) May 30, 2021
After helping a young Oklahoma City Thunder team make it into the playoffs with an ensemble of scrappy inexperienced players, Paul’s arrival to Phoenix has not only helped the Suns but also given CP3 a final chance at the championship ring that keeps slipping out of his fingers.
The Thunder went from 16 games over .500, to 28 games under, while the Suns, whose 63 losses were the most in the Western Conference in 2019, have the second-best record in the league, finishing the season with 51 wins, in the 72-game season, just two years later with Williams and Paul.
Chris Paul says he and Head Coach Monty Williams met before the game and Williams told Chris he was going to sit him.
CP3’s response was “hell nah”, 18/9/3/3 in 31 minutes. pic.twitter.com/fLD7ifQd7w
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) May 30, 2021
Paul has also helped develop former #1 pick De’Andre Ayton extremely who has upped his shooting percentage from 54 to 62 percent. With the pick-and-roll duo similar to the Clippers, and a dangerous scoring option next to him like he did in Houston, Paul has still found a way to be useful, even after the shoulder injury, averaging nine assists in the final three wins against the Lakers.
— NBA (@NBA) June 4, 2021
The closest CP3 has made it to the NBA Finals was with Houston in 2017, almost defeating the Golden State Warriors super team with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson, holding a 3-2 lead before injuring his hamstring. Paul couldn’t play in the next two games, while Houston went on to miss 27 straight threes in Game Seven, a playoff record.
As great as it would be to watch another Wildcat win the NBA championship after Anthony Davis last year, also remember this.
Chris Paul deserves this. ????
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) June 4, 2021
The Suns will tip off Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Denver Nuggets tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. ET on TNT.