The Phoenix Suns faithful are on top of the world after their team dominated their way to a 2-0 lead on the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals on an ultra-efficient, record-breaking performance from the Point God, Chris Paul.
This franchise laid dormant for a decade, with its last playoff appearance being the 2010-11 season. For reference, the last time the Suns made the playoffs, I was an 18-year old, making my decision on where I’d play college basketball. I was watching the sport for inspiration, not as a profession.
After never being able to get the job done, despite having some talent, always seeming to fall victim to the toughest conference in basketball, Devin Booker improved cerebrally, Deandre Ayton became more of a force in his sophomore campaign, Cameron Payne was reborn, and the most significant change; they acquired Chris Paul, who seems to make everything better wherever he goes.
During the season, and even late into the season, Phoenix wasn’t considered serious contenders by popular vote, despite being in the top four of the Western Conference all season long. They even spent time holding the best record in the NBA. Even entering the playoffs, as a two-seed, many slept on them.
The Suns are 6-2 in the playoffs thus far and look to be a bad matchup for the Nuggets, who are having a hard time matching their intensity. Over the last three games, CP3 is averaging 12.6 assists and 0.6 turnovers per game. He also joined LeBron James and John Stockton as the only NBA postseason players with at least 15 points, 15 assists, and five rebounds in a game at age 35 or over. He also passed Magic Johnson for most playoff games with ten or more assists and zero turnovers with five.
“To be named with a guy like Magic, I know he passed Magic’s assist record this league, that’s legendary, that’s forever. That’s bigger than the game of basketball. That’s an icon.”Devin Booker on Chris Paul.
Chris Paul is a walking endorsement for the plant-based lifestyle.
Devin Booker’s first playoff experience has been a cinch for him thus far, averaging 27.1 points, 5.0 assists, and 6.3 rebounds through eight games. Still, his poise and discernment in crucial situations, culturally known as “clutchness,” has taken a step forward this season. While most of his growth is due to his dedication, I’d be amiss if I didn’t recognize the studying he’s done under professor Paul.
The Utah Jazz and the Phoenix Suns are the best teams in the Western Conference, and it’s evident to me. But I believe the Suns are a tad bit better than Utah because of Chris Paul. Both teams are similar: there’s the star (Booker and Donovan Mitchell), a solid supporting cast, above-average defense, and an explosive offense to go along with an experienced, competent coach. Those are all things that signify a championship-caliber team. What puts Phoenix over the top is having Paul and his lengthy playoff experience over the last three decades.
Phoenix is playing together as a team, Paul’s shoulder is healthy, Devin Booker knows how to perform in the playoffs, the role players are doing their job, and young players like Mikal Bridges and Ayton are getting better by the game.
It may have sounded unrealistic at first, but the Phoenix Suns are my personal favorite to reach the NBA Finals for the reasons above. There’s not a team that can cool them off in the Western Conference.