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Phoenix Takes Down the Clippers in an Ultimately Disappointing Series

Updated: May 1, 2023

-Photo Credit to azcentral.

On Tuesday, the Phoenix Suns took down the LA Clippers in 5 games to win the series, led by a dominant Devin Booker. However, the injuries on the Clippers side prevented the series from being what it could have been: a clash of two of the best big 3's in the NBA today. As the Suns go on to battle it out against Jokić and the Denver Nuggets, let's recap what led the Phoenix Suns to victory over this LA team.

The star of this series was undoubtedly Devin Booker. Book averaged 37, 5, and 6 over the course of the series and led the Suns in scoring in 3 of the 5 games. He did this all on 59% Fg%. Fans have injuries to thank for this historic playoff performance. With the Clippers missing their two best two-way players for most of the series, Booker was left to his own devices, and LA couldn't stop him or respond with points of their own. The one game that the Clippers won, Kawhi went off for 38 points and Devin Booker was held at his series low of 26. If Kawhi didn't get injured, I could have seen this series going to 7 games. That's not even to mention if Paul George was healthy.

Even though injuries to LA's two best players definitely helped Booker post his monstrous stat lines, his meteoric rise in the playoffs can not be attributed to much else but his own mentality. Booker jumped up 9 ppg, averaged .5 more rebounds, and posted almost one more assist per game over the course of the series compared to his regular season stats. Devin Booker is one of those players who truly elevates his game to another level in the playoffs, equal to that of what Jimmy Butler did against the Bucks. His ability to take over games and truly control the offense is nothing short of impressive.

Something just as impressive (if not more impressive) is that Book did all of this while not having his stats detracted by one of the greatest scorers ever to play the game in Kevin Durant on his team. KD has accepted a secondary role in Phoenix, allowing Booker to run the offense and basically fitting in wherever he can. This game plan suits Kevin Durant's skill-set perfectly. With his ability to score the ball efficiently and effectively from anywhere on the court and provide average (above average when he feels like it) defense, KD provides a versatile, universal play style that does not restrict the play styles of any of his teammates. Because of this, he was able to perfectly mesh into the Suns' pre-KD offensive and defensive schemes without skipping a beat.

As the 2nd option in Phoenix and the best 2nd option in the league, KD averaged 28 ppg, outscoring Booker by one point in each of the two games that Book did not lead in. The one-two combo of Devin Booker and Kevin Durant might be the best offensive duo in the league currently. Neither player can be left unguarded at any point on the court, and both are able to take over games if the other has gone cold or is being heavily guarded. This is furthered by an above average offensive center in Deandre Ayton and a veteran point guard with one of the highest basketball iq's in the game who is able to facilitate the entire offensive scheme in Chris Paul. Not to mention forward Torrey Craig who scored in double digits in all but two of the games this series. The Suns have one of the most dominant starting fives in the league.

The only difficulty that the Suns experienced in their playoff run was Russel Westbrook. Sure, Kawhi caused a bit of a ruckus with back-to-back 30+ point games, leading the Clippers to their only win of the series. But when he went out for good, all eyes turned to Russ. And he delivered. Russ returned to form, averaging 24, 8, and 7 to try and will the Clippers to a win. He became the heart of the team, dominating on both ends of the court. Russ's deeds did not go unnoticed. He quickly changed the general narrative surrounding him that he was a washed superstar, displaying his ability to still lead a team and play at the highest level on offense and on defense. It was all in vain, however, against Devin Booker and Kevin Durant's offensive consistency. That being said, Russel Westbrook definitely proved something with the way he played out there. It will be interesting to see if the Clippers blow it up this offseason, and if they do, if they choose to keep Russel Westbrook on as a veteran leader on a small contract.

It would have been nice to see a full series of Kawhi, PG, and Russ against Book, KD, and Chris Paul. It would have been a head-to-head matchup of some of the most skilled NBA players. Would Booker and KD's scoring frenzy have held up against a lockdown combo of Kawhi and Paul George? We'll never know. Before the series began, it was the series I was most excited to watch. However, just as in every other sport, injuries ruined it, making this series ultimately a disappointment. Now, the Suns go on to play the Denver Nuggets in the 2nd round of the playoffs, and they actually have a healthy roster.

Following last night's humbling loss to the Denver Nuggets, I've gotten a little scared for the Suns, especially with the dominant performance by Jamal Murray who looked like he was back in the Bubble. That said, I still have Phoenix as my pick to win the series. Devin Booker and Chris Paul are a proven success story over the last couple years, excelling in the regular season and making the finals once. The addition of Kevin Durant, one of the most consistent playoff performers, only helps the Suns' situation. Their proven playoff consistency and the Nuggets' historical playoff shortcomings gives me faith in the Suns. They are still my favorites to win the finals.


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