The Phoenix Suns advanced to NBA Finals for first time since 1993, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 130-103 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.
The Suns are the first team to reach a Finals after a 10-season playoff drought. During the run in 1993, the Suns were led by Charles Barkley and lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in six games. The Suns’ only other finals appearance was in 1976, a loss to the Boston Celtics in six games.
After being stuck in the Western Conference basement for the past decade, the Suns traded for Paul who has turned the team into a championship-contending franchise.
Paul delivered once again as the point guard scored 41 points, eight assists and three steals. Devin Booker chipped in with 22 points and added seven rebounds and center Deandre Ayton had a double-double with 16 points and 17 rebounds to send the Suns to just their third NBA Finals appearance in franchise history. They will face either the Atlanta Hawks or Milwaukee Bucks, who are tied 2-2 in the East finals.
“I was just happy and proud of our team,” Paul said. “I experienced covid just a week ago. I was at my home and couldn’t be there with my teammates. That’s what you call next man up: they won two games without me. I wanted it not just for myself, but for everyone in that locker room.”
In order to get the win, Paul did so on the Staples Center court where he helped bring the Clippers to respectability over six seasons that ended in 2017. The 36-year-old couldn’t miss from beyond the arc as he went 7-for-8 from downtown.
Paul’s 41 tied his playoff career-high. He is the oldest player in NBA postseason history with at least 35 points in consecutive close-out games (37 vs. Nuggets).
Notes: The Suns were 17 of 31 from 3-point range and owned a 54-34 edge in the paint.