In Game 6 of the Suns vs. Pelicans in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs this season, 36-year-old Chris Paul made 14 of 14 shots, 4 of 4 from the free throw line, and impeccably scored 33 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists. Led the Suns to advance to the division semifinals. At such a promotion moment, the 183-centimeter point guard has grown taller, and he can always dedicate extraordinary energy.
This is Paul’s second season with the Phoenix Suns, who posted a 64-18 regular-season record, the best record in franchise history. And last season, the first year Paul joined the Suns, he already led the team to complete a qualitative leap and boarded the stage of the finals. And the Western Conference finals that rushed out of the West has also become a story that belongs to him.
In the first two rounds of the Suns, the Lakers and the Nuggets were shortlisted for the division finals, and their opponent was Paul’s old club, the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers are a very resilient team. With the two main players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George playing in and out, they still eliminated the Mavericks and Jazz, aiming to create a civilian miracle.
In the first two games, the Suns narrowly beat their opponents. In the third game, Paul, who was released from medical isolation, ushered in a comeback. In the next three games, he struggled: 15 points on 5 of 19 shots, 18 points on 6 of 22 shots, and 22 points on 8 of 19 shots. The three-pointer made only 2 of 16 shots, and the Suns won 1 and 2, and the big score was rewritten to 3-2. Whether Paul can show above-average quality in match points has become a key factor in determining the trend of the series.
In the first round after the start of the game, the Suns attacked, Mikal Bridges, Devin Booker and Paul passed the ball from beyond the arc, DeAndre Ayton stood at the basket, Jay Ke Lauder is in the running position. In the face of Tyron Lue’s two-three zone defense at the beginning of the game, the old Paul chose a 45-degree corner on the right, and another veteran Claude ran to the free throw line tacitly. The two dead ends of the second and third defense were immediately pinched by the Suns. Due to the fear of the Suns’ further offensive movements, the Clippers’ defensive formation shifted to the strong side. Under Ayton’s thick cover, Bridges on the weak side hit the basket and converted Paul’s gift into a beautiful two-handed dunk.
In the first half of the game, the sun still occupied the advantage on the scene. While Paul was threading the needle, he was also trying to find his own touch. He scored 10 points and 4 assists, and the team led 66-57 by 9 points.
Paul lay on the ground, Reggie turned to look at the rim, and lowered his fouled arm in frustration. Yes, Paul hit a three-plus-one, and the Suns extended their advantage. In other words, one of their feet has stepped on the floor of the finals.
That is to say, within a few minutes from the end of the third quarter to the beginning of the fourth quarter, Paul scored 14 points on the offensive end, ruining the Clippers’ hopes of a comeback. The Wake Forest guard, who regained his sense of scoring goals, made 16 of 24 shots, 7 of 8 from three-pointers, and scored 41 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals. A group of smug young people pulled into the finals.
This season, the Suns, who are aiming to continue to challenge the championship, have made a comeback. Paul seems to be no less brave, and Booker, Ayton, Bridges, Cameron Johnson and others have grown for another year. Whether Paul, who has never been involved in the O’Brien Cup, can realize his dream this year, let this question be answered by time and the players!