If I would have said to you at the beginning of the season that the Suns would be this close to a championship, I would have called you crazy. Now they are two games away from the NBA finals after a wild 104-103 win against the Clippers last night. They’ve managed to take a 2-0 lead even without their leader Chris Paul. I’ve become a Suns fan due to Kobe retiring and, when looking for a new team, I made the bold statement that the Suns would be the most improved team in the league after three straight seasons of 24 or less wins. They drafted Deandre Ayton, signed Trevor Ariza, Devin Booker was growing into a star, and it looked like T.J. Warren could be a nice second or third scoring option. They ended that year with 19 wins. I was very wrong. But I’ve continued the Suns love and I’m now reaping the benefits. They signed my fellow WVU grad, Jevon Carter, and at times it looks like he can be a big contributor. He hasn’t seen the time in the playoffs but hopefully he can step into the backup role after Cam Payne gets paid somewhere this offseason.
Back to last night’s game. The final minute was insane. Four lead changes in just the last 30 seconds. With L.A. leading 103-102, Monty Williams earned a lot of money with his great play design and exploitation of a rule that is not used too often. On an inbound play, there is no basket interference so Ayton was able to just guide the ball in over the rim.
That is a heartbreaking way to lose for the Clippers after going to the line with 8 seconds left with the lead. Paul George was the hero, making a jumper with 21 seconds left but couldn’t convert either shot to give them a one possession lead. George, an 87% free throw shooter, missed three other free throws in the game. They need him to convert when given the chance. The suns are too good defensively to not take advantage at the line.
It looks like Chris Paul will be back for game 3. The Clippers have to make a chance defensively no matter who plays point guard for the Suns. The Suns shot terribly from deep. But the Clippers played big and couldn’t defend the pick and roll without playing a drop zone. This allowed the guards to get down hill and pull up from mid range. That is an easy way to have another Suns in 4 series.