Chris Paul and his teammates beat Los Angeles 84-80 in a race-4 with a 90s charm. Lue’s team with their backs to the wall: “But a comeback is possible”
To a win from the Finals. The first since 1993. Probably not even the most optimistic of the Suns fans at the beginning of the season would have believed this goal possible. Instead Phoenix is there, he sees the series for the title after a sensational battle with the Clippers in Game-4 ended 84-80, a match worthy of the Nineties with the defenses that dominate and the attacks that fail, which projects the Suns on the 3-1 in the final in the West. “Why not us?” Chris Paul had written on his shoes to motivate himself. Yeah, why not these amazing Suns, this group of young people with an old school soul, as CP3 calls them, who continue to surprise and improve in these playoffs?
Phoenix’s victory in this vintage battle has three main protagonists. The first Paul (18 points and 7 assists but 6/22 shooting) with his leadership, always a point of reference for his teammates to understand how to do the right thing. Then Devin Booker, finally managed to live with Pat Beverley’s suffocating defense (but not with the mask that protects his nose that will have to be operated at the end of the season, thrown away mid-game): he finished with 25 points, while shooting 8 / 22 from the field. The mvp, however, is DeAndre Ayton, devastating under the basket with 19 points and 22 rebounds and blossomed in these playoffs as one of the best NBA centers. They were the three points of reference in the field of a team that built this success on defense, on the desire to fight, on reacting to the return of the Clippers who in the third quarter had reopened a game that seemed closed in the second, with the Suns ahead by 16. . This victory is yet another proof of maturity, yet another confirmation that Monty Williams is not just a team of well-guided, cheeky talents, but a group that in these playoffs has steadily risen in level, both individually and team, coming to caress a goal that seemed impossible. The first chance to hit him is at 3 am Italian on the night between Monday and Tuesday: the Suns will play in front of their fans and they already know that it will still be the most difficult match of their season.
back to the wall
“It’s not over yet” mumbles Paul George in the final seconds of the match. No, it’s not over yet, but the Clippers, who have already recovered twice from 2-0 in these playoffs, are now down 3-1, a deficit that has only been canceled 13 times in NBA history. “It can be done,” recalls Tyronn Lue, who has succeeded in his career with Cleveland and on the most important stage, the Finals 2016. Lue will have to use all his skill in making adjustments to get his Clippers back on their feet: the team she is evidently tired, squeezed after playing 17 playoff games in 36 days, with the rotation reduced to the bone by injuries. Seeing Paul George is believing: he continues to play well (23 points, 16 rebounds and 6 assists in game-4), but to shoot very badly (5/20 from the field), despite Lue to allow him to be the leader in attack of which the Clippers need after Kawhi Leonard’s injury to lighten his defensive duties. In race-4 Reggie Jackson also shot badly (20 points but 8/24 from the field): the best was Ivica Zubac, 13 points and 14 rebounds good to try to counter Ayton. But the Clippers would have needed more, as it would be to be able to reassemble Phoenix. “We are a tough and mentally tough team: we know what to do,” assures Jackson. Certainly in Arizona they will not have to replicate the horrible offensive game of Game-4 (32.5% from the field with 5/31 of three): the Clippers will play for their season, with the need to bring out those energies that seem to have exhausted.
Devastating departure of the Suns (14-2 after 4 ‘), which becomes dominion in the second quarter, when the overwhelming power of Ayton near the baskets helps to inflate the advantage up to 44-28 that Payne slips 3’13 “from the rest. The first basket of the recovery is that of 52-36, but it is also what wakes up the Clippers, who return down to -1 but never manage to overtake. 69-66 at the end of the third quarter would be enough to give the idea of how much the defenses we dominated the match, but in the fourth period it rises to another level: it ends 15-14 for the Suns, with Booker and George out for fouls, the last 30 seconds that pass as slow as the 28 years since the last Finals in Phoenix, the ones that the Suns are caressing now, that they feel so close to. Why not them?
LA Clippers: George 23 (4/11 of two, 1/9 of three, 12/18 free throws), Jackson 20, Zubac 13. Rebounds: George 16. Assists: George 6.
Phoenix:Booker 25 (8/17, 0/5, 9/11 tl), Ayton 19, Paul 18. Rebounds: Ayton 22. Assist: Paul 7.
June 27, 2021 (change June 27, 2021 | 08:41)
© REPRODUCTION RESERVED