As the Phoenix Suns closed out the never-die Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night to win their first round playoff series, Devin Booker made another entry in the NBA history books.
Booker outscored the Clippers all by himself in the third quarter (25 to 24) on the way to a 47-point explosion — his second 47-point outing in a closeout game in the last three years. Back in 2021’s first round, Booker dropped 47, along with 11 rebounds and 3 assists, in Game 6 to help the Suns close out the LA Lakers in that hard-fought first round.
This time, Booker added sublime passing to the mix as he became the first player in the NBA’s 76-year history to post 47 points while also dishing 10 assists in a series clinching game.
47 and 11 rebounds to close out the Lakers. 47 and 10 assists to close out the Clippers.
That’s not the only similarity between the two first round series, 2021 and 2023. Consider this:
- an LA team used supreme physicality to make it tough on the favored Suns
- took away home court advantage with an early win in Phoenix
- lost one of their stars in the middle of the series to injury and
- watched the Suns win out from that point on.
In both series, the Suns came in as the higher seeded team so the guys from LA tried to muck up the series with physical play, attempts at intimidation, never-say-die attitude, but ultimately succumbed to the Suns superior talent from the midpoint of the series on.
Oh, and one more similarity:
- With the series win, the Suns would go on to face the Denver Nuggets in the second round.
That’s where the similarities diverge, though.
This year, the Nuggets are the higher seed and, for the first time in Devin Booker’s career, the Suns will start the series on the road with two games in Denver. And this time, the Nuggets’s best players are all healthy.
Do we get a revival of the ‘who’s better: Devin Booker or Jamal Murray’ debate?
So far in these playoffs, Booker is leading all players in scoring with 37.2 points per game, including his fifth and sixth 40+ point outing in 37 career playoff games. Three came in the first round, one in the Conference Finals and two in the NBA Finals. Booker has career playoff averages of 27.6 points, 4.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds with 47/37/89 shooting splits.
Jamal Murray is currently 9th in scoring with 27.2 points per game, including his fifth 40+ point outing in 38 career playoff games. Four came in the first round, one in the Conference semis. Murray has career playoff averages of 24.7 points, 5.9 assists and 4.8 rebounds with 47/41/90 shooting splits.
Gonna be a great series!