The Phoenix Suns are about to do the improbable. The Suns are one win away from getting to the NBA Finals after defeating the Clippers 84-80 in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Saturday night at Staples Center.
This was a ’90s style playoff game as both teams went cold in the fourth quarter. The two teams combined for 29 points in the fourth. Phoenix shot 21% from the floor in the final period, while the Clippers were held to 16% shooting. After the Clippers cut the lead to 71-70 following a Paul George free-throw with just over ten minutes left, the two teams did not score for over three minutes. Los Angeles cut the lead to one on several occasions but could not get over the hump.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Clippers shot 0-12 in the 4th quarter on shots that could’ve tied the game or taken the lead. That’s the most such attempts without a make in the 4th quarter of a game over the last 25 postseasons.
“I think it was an ugly game from beginning to end, honestly,” Devin Booker, who led the Suns with 25 points before fouling out in the fourth, said after the game. “if you’re talking from a scoring aspect, but we dug in and got stops, and it’s the playoffs – any way you can come out with one.”
Deandre Ayton, who scored 19 points and grabbed a career-high 22 rebounds, was happy with the way Phoenix stayed together during the team’s cold spell in Game 4.
“My teammates are really relentless,” he said. “We have a thing on the team where something called togetherness, and we play as a unit, we come together, and we just fight over adversity and fight over fatigue. Our mental stamina was there today, and we did a good job of that.”
Now, it’s time for Phoenix to focus on Game 5(Monday night), where they have an opportunity to get to the NBA Finals in front of their home fans. If they can get it done in Game 5, Phoenix will make it to the Finals for the first time in 28 years.
Chris Paul was one win away from the Finals back in 2018 with the Rockets before losing to the Warriors in 7, and he knows that the job is not done until you get four wins.
“Three wins don’t win the series,” Paul, who 18 points and seven assists, said postgame. “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.”
The Clippers have battled back this whole playoff run, so they’re not done until the Suns win four games. However, without Kawhi Leonard(missed sixth straight game with knee sprain), it appears the Clippers may have finally run out of gas. We’ll see what they have in Game 5.
-Paul George led the Clippers with 23 points, 16 rebounds, and six assists on Saturday night before fouling out late in the game, and Reggie Jackson added 20 points.
-Suns’ Booker got rid of the mask he uses to protect his broken nose in the third quarter. After the game, he explained why.
“I just I think I took it off after I missed a layup,” he said about the mask. “I said after the game if I get hit again, which you don’t realize how much you get hit in the face until you take it off. But I can get surgery after the season. I’m not blaming anything on the mask, but I haven’t played basketball with a mask ever in my life. So it takes some getting used to, and at that point in that time, I didn’t want it.”