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Center of the Sun, Part 1: No CP3? No Problem! Suns take a 1-0 lead in Western Conference Finals!

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Your weekly roundup of Suns news, rumors, notes and videos from the prior week plus a preview of the week to come.

Los Angeles Clippers v Phoenix Suns - Game One Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs Los Angeles Clippers W (120-114) Game 1 Recap

I’m going to be honest and say that I wasn’t overly confident in the Suns’ getting a win in Game 1 with Chris Paul sidelined. I was quite happy discover that my pre-game jitters were unnecessary. The Suns put on an exhibition on how to play the right way and win against a very tough opponent.

The team played a great game but Booker had what I consider to be the best overall game in his career. If he hadn’t already disproven all those old narratives of him being a “looter in a riot”, yesterday’s game should put them to rest for good. Anyone who denies how good he is now obviously knows nothing about basketball.

Book and this team have grown a lot as this season progressed past the early 8-8 start. The season was full of ups and downs but the ups kept getting higher while the downs became fewer and farther apart. NBA Executive of the Year James Jones put together one hell of a team and Monty Williams fine tuned that team into not just a winner but a contender.

This opportunity is what Booker has spent much of his life preparing himself for. It’s what Chris Paul has been working toward for 16 years. It’s what every player dreams of and what every fan hopes for. The Clippers area damn fine basketball team but, when Chris Paul returns, they are going to have an even tougher road to the Finals, one which I think may very well turn out to be a dead end for them.

There’s still plenty of basketball left to play though. We fans can celebrate yesterday’s Game 1 win all we want but for the Suns it’s back to business.

And right now, business is good.


Game Highlights

#4 CLIPPERS at #1 SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | June 20, 2021

Devin Booker Becomes 4th YOUNGEST to Drop 40 PT TRIPLE-DOUBLE in the Playoffs!

NBA | Deandre Ayton (20 pts) Vs. Los Angeles Clippers


Key Stats

40 pts, 13 rebs, 11 assists, 51.7% FG, 42.9% 3pt, 2 TOs

Devin Booker’s first career triple-double was an epic one in what was the most important game of his career... so far. Booker’s eFG% was 56.9% and his TS% was 62.3%. Booker also scored or assisted on 43 of the Suns’ final 50 points in Game 1.

62.4% eFG%, 64.5% TS%

These are the team shooting numbers for the Suns. The Clippers’ eFG% and TS% were 56.8% and 59.7% respectively. The Suns out shot the Clips from everywhere but three (Clips - 42.6% 3pt, Suns - 40.6%) but LA attempted 15 more threes than the Suns (47-32). Half of LAC’s made shots from the field were 3-pointers and 53.4% of their shot attempts (47 of 88) were from three.

31 assists (Suns) vs 23 assists (LAC)

The ball movement by the Suns was beautiful (even without CP3!) which led to many open looks and many points. Every Sun that played got at least two assists except for Torrey Craig (1) and Cam Johnson (0).

17 FTA (LAC) vs 9 FTA (Suns)

Although the Suns actually committed one foul less than LA, they sent the Clippers to the free throw line too often with shooting fouls. The difference wasn’t huge but it’s something to keep an eye on as this series progresses.

Random stats: Devin Booker is the first Suns player with a 40-point triple-double since Charles Barkley had 43 pts, 15 rebs and 10 assists in Game 5 against Seattle in the WCFs on June 1, 1993. The Suns also won that game at home 120-114.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and/or Basketball-Reference.com.


Quotes of the Week

“We’re not just swimming with the sharks out here. We’re the sharks.” - Deandre Ayton

“We don’t leave the gym until we are all on the same page, so there is no gray area on any (defensive) rotation or anything that we’re doing.” - Devin Booker

“(There are) little things that you may not think make the difference until you get into that situation and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘I’m glad we went over that’ or ‘I’m glad we talked about that.’” - Monty Williams


Injury Status Report

Chris Paul - Health & Safety Protocols/Day-to-day

Abdel Nader - Knee/Expected to be out until at least Jun 30.


Rookie Playoff Report (WCF)

Jalen Smith - DNP-CD

Ty-Shon Alexander - DNP-CD


News & Notes

Paul George vs Devin Booker: A Rivalry Where History Runs Deep. Essentially Sports

Everything Counts. Suns.com

We Dem Boyz. Deandre Ayton/The Players’ Tribune

How the Phoenix Suns could temporarily survive without Chris Paul. Zona Hoops

The 2021 Postseason Is Rewriting the Narratives of the 2018 NBA Draft. The Ringer

Devin Booker Addresses Criticism Of Inviting ‘Suns in Four’ Fan To Game. The Spun

Playoffs hits and bombs: Deandre Ayton, Josh Richardson and more. Hoops Hype

Jae Crowder: ‘I know I look like a genius’ after signing with Suns. Arizona Sports


Previewing the week ahead

Tuesday, June 22 - Phoenix Suns vs LA Clippers 6:00 pm AZT

Thursday, June 24 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Clippers 6:00 pm AZT

Saturday, June 26 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Clippers 6:00 pm AZT

Again I’ve asked the Fantable members to join me with their series predictions as the Suns face off against the Clippers in the Western Conference finals.

GuarGuar: It’s hard to predict right now with both Paul and Kawhi’s status up in the air. It does seem like Kawhi will miss at least a good portion of the series if not all based on current reports. I’m going Suns in 5 because of that. If we have Chris Paul we are just much better than the Clippers without Kawhi. We have home court advantage for the remainder of the playoffs. I think that’s huge for us.

Sun-Arc: Suns in 6

This is a tough series to predict with the current unavailability of Paul and Kawhi, and how quickly they may come back for games - if at all.

A lot of the Suns finishing this in 6 hinges on Paul being available by game 2. It sounds like Kawhi will not be available for game 1, which will help. Whether he plays or not, I could see this series going very similar to the Lakers in the first round. Split games at home, then split the away games, then win the next two. Why do I think that? Because I believe the Suns have a better perimeter defense than the Jazz showed in round 2. Plus we will be MUCH more rested. And, I think, better defenders for dealing with Paul George in Crowder and Craig. Maybe it goes to 7, who knows? I just hope we beat these guys.

SDKyle: Suns in 7. I have no especially good reason for this. There are too many unknowns. How much will CP3 play? Will Kawhi return and will he be diminished?

The Clippers are tough. So are the Suns, though. And the Suns have home court. I think the Suns will ultimately win 3 games in Phoenix and one in Los Angeles and get the chance to move on to the NBA finals.

SouthernSun: Well, game 1 is over, and it was a wild ride. I was nervous at one point, but our guys ended up pulling through. After watching the Suns overcome the Clippers despite being without CP3, I can’t see them losing more than a game or 2 in this series. If they can’t handle Booker when Moore is playing next to him, they certainly can’t handle it when the second option is Chris Paul. As long as the role players keep hitting from range, and we have reasonable luck, I think this series is over in 5 games.

Suns win the series, going 4 - 1.

Rod: Before Game 1, I was leaning toward saying “Suns in 6” but now I’m not so certain. I’m going to stick with that though as we still don’t know when CP3 will return and LAC has already shown the ability to bounce back after getting down 0-2 in both their playoff series against Dallas and Utah. If CP3 comes back on Tuesday and Kawhi Leonard remains out, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Suns win in 5 though.

What’s your prediction?

Other NBA Stuff happening this week:

June 21-27 - NBA Draft Combine.

June 22 - NBA Draft Lottery.


Important Future Dates

July 8-22 - NBA Finals.

July 29 - NBA Draft.

August 2 - 2021-22 season Free Agency period begins (6 pm ET).

August 6 - Moratorium ends (12:01 p.m. ET). Free agents can officially be signed.

August 8-17 - NBA Summer League 2021 (Las Vegas).

September 28 - Training camps for 2021-22 season open.

October 19 - First day of the 2021-22 regular season.


COTS2 : Inside the Suns with the Fantable, trivia, weekly history, etc. will be published later this week.