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Center of the Sun, Part 1: Suns’ return to NBA Finals is just one victory away!

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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.

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Four Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs Los Angeles Clippers W (104-103) Game 2 Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Los Angeles Clippers L (106-92) Game 3 Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Los Angeles Clippers W (84-80) Game 4 Recap

Up 3-1 on the Los Angeles Clippers, the Suns are on the verge of returning to the NBA Finals for just the third time in team history. The last time was in 1993 and wasn’t much of a surprise to fans back then. The first time they were there was in 1976 and that was a big surprise. This year’s team falls somewhere in between in terms of the ‘surprise’ factor.

We knew this team was going to be good but few openly spoke of hopes or expectations of the Suns getting all the way to the Western Conference Finals let alone being a real championship contender. In some ways, it’s all gravy from here on out but sometimes the gravy is what makes the meal special.

Some people have already attempted to belittle the Suns’ accomplishments this season but the race to an NBA championship has always been more of a marathon than a sprint. The Suns have kept themselves from stumbling along the way by keeping their eyes focused on each step directly ahead rather than trying to peek over the horizon as they ran.

Let no one convince you that this season is somehow lessened by the misfortunes of other teams. The opportunity for misfortune was there for every team and if anyone wants to call the Suns lucky, that’s fine. Every season luck - both good and bad - plays a part in virtually every NBA game so this one is no different than any other.

In fact it was talent, determination and plain old hard work that got the Suns where they are today. That and good leadership both on and off the court.

Five more wins and the party begins!


Game Highlights

#4 CLIPPERS at #2 SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | June 22, 2021

Deandre Ayton POSTS Playoff CAREER-HIGH 24 PTS & GAME-WINNER!

#2 SUNS at #4 CLIPPERS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | June 24, 2021

Cameron Johnson - 11 Pts, 3 Reb, 1 Stl|WCF Game 2 Full Highlight Phoenix Suns vs Clippers

#2 SUNS at #4 CLIPPERS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | June 26, 2021

Deandre Ayton DOMINATES in win! | Suns vs Clippers Game 4

Devin Booker puts up 25 PTS in Suns Game 4 win vs. the LA Clippers


Key Stats

38.4 % vs 30.0%

The first figure is the Suns’ three-point shooting percentage against the Lakers and Nuggets. The second figure is for their three-point shooting against the Clippers. The good news is that the Suns aren’t relying on three-point shooting to win and have been averaging only 27.5 attempts per game against the Clippers vs the 31.5 attempts per game they averaged against the Lakers and Nuggets and their 34.6 attempts per game in the regular season.

While the Clippers have been shooting better than the Suns from three (34.2%) they haven’t been lights out either but are still averaging 36.5 attempts per game. The Suns are getting 61.5% of their points off two-pointers vs only 44.7% for the Clips and 50.1% of Phoenix’s points come from shots in the paint vs only 34.7% for LAC. From the field, the Suns are hitting 45% of their FG attempts (86.8 pg) while LAC is hitting only 42% (83.3 attempts pg).

Among Suns players attempting at least 3 three-point shots per game, Cam Johnson is the only player who is shooting above 32% in this WCF series with the Clippers. His 42.9% shooting from three has been a much welcomed anomaly while Crowder (31.8%), Bridges (31.3%), Payne (26.7%), Booker (22.7%) and Paul (20.0%) have been shooting threes well below both their full playoffs and regular season averages. While Torrey Craig (50%) and Dario Saric (40%) have kept their 3-pt averages up, their low 3-point shooting volume (1.0 and 1.3 attempts per game respectively) has kept their averages from making much of an impact.

Points off Turnovers: 16.3 ppg (Suns) vs 11.8 (LAC)

The Suns are obviously winning this battle which makes a difference when your team is shooting poorly from three. The fact that the Suns are also scoring more fast break points (8.5 vs 7.0) and 2nd chance points (10.5 vs 9.8), it all adds up over time.

Random stats: 21.9% of Deandre Ayton’s points scored during the playoffs have been dunks (16.6% during the regular season). The 84 points that the Suns scored in Game-4 was the lowest point total in a WC Finals game in Suns history.

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


Quotes of the Week

“Three wins don’t win the series, so right now, we did what we came here to do. We wanted to get one of these, and now we got to stay focused and be ready to go back to our crowd.” - Chris Paul

“We don’t know who’s going to drop 30, we don’t know who’s going to hit the game winner. That’s how this team is. We play for each other, and the key thing we do is togetherness. We try not to break that.” - Deandre Ayton

“He (Deandre Ayton) understands how much of a force he is and I think he’s figuring out his capabilities.” - Devin Booker

“Every possession, he (Deandre Ayton) is playing like his life depends on it... you just don’t see him take possessions off.” - Monty Williams

“I’ve never known a guy (Chris Paul) who cares so much about basketball and competing at everything. And it’s contagious, and that’s what he built in me as well.” - Deandre Ayton

“By learning how to play with really good players, where you may not be the main focus every game, it does give you more of a team-first mentality.” - Cameron Johnson


Injury Status Report

No injuries reported.


Rookie Playoff Report (WCF)

Jalen Smith - DNP-CD

Ty-Shon Alexander - DNP-CD


News & Notes

Suns’ Deandre Ayton says Chris Paul is ‘best thing that happened to my career’ amid breakout playoff run. CBS Sports

Deandre Ayton’s leap has the Suns one win away from the NBA Finals. Gerald Bourguet/The Step Back

Last night was the reason why the NBA changed its rules. Deadspin

Phoenix Suns take 3-1 series lead, inspired to get Chris Paul first trip to NBA Finals. ESPN

Suns’ Chris Paul on Deandre Ayton Contract: He’s ‘Gonna Get Him a Bag This Summer’. Bleacher Report

The Future Is Now. SI

Booker Blazing Suns Through the Playoffs. The Lead

Would the Hawks and Suns Be the Most Improbable NBA Finalists? The Ringer

NBA playoffs 2021: Why Deandre Ayton was the right No. 1 pick for the Phoenix Suns. ESPN

It’s Going to Take More Than a Headbutt to Break the Suns. The Ringer

Suns: How Devin Booker took Phoenix’s temporary point guard vacancy and ran with it. Hoops Habit

Devin Booker Is Talking—and Playing—a Big Game. The Ringer

The Twins. Suns.com


Previewing the week ahead

Monday, June 28 - Phoenix Suns vs LA Clippers 6:00 pm AZT (ESPN)

Wednesday, June 30 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Clippers 6:00 pm AZT (If necessary/ESPN)

Saturday, July 2 - Phoenix Suns vs LA Clippers 6:00 pm AZT (If necessary/ESPN)

To me, the question now is WHEN will the Suns win the Western Conference Finals rather that Can they win. All they have to do is win one more game with two of the remaining three opportunities to do so played in Phoenix. Could the Clippers actually win three more games in a row and foil the Suns’ quest to reach the NBA Finals? Anything’s possible but I think not and the Suns will end this series tonight in Phoenix.

What’s your prediction?


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.