After a decade of not being in the playoffs, the Phoenix Suns have advanced to the Western Conference Finals after sweeping the Denver Nuggets. This series is also the first time a Chris Paul-led team has completed a sweep in the playoffs. While a lot of predictions had the Suns winning this series, many weren’t expecting a sweep before the series started. Let’s take a look back on what happened in this series.
NBA Playoffs Recap: Phoenix Suns vs Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets Played Awful Basketball
This was unfortunately a common theme for the Nuggets in this series. The Suns in this series have outscored the Nuggets in the third quarter by a total of 34 points as a result of their struggles on both ends of the floor. Outside of their reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, nobody else was consistent offensively. Their second scoring option in Michael Porter struggled to make shots this series. This series showed that the Nuggets miss Jamal Murray offensively.
Denver had a halftime lead over the Phoenix in Game 1 and held a double-digit lead in the third quarter. However, ever since that third quarter, the Nuggets played their worst basketball this year from that point forward. While the Suns played some excellent defense, the Nuggets just fell apart on both ends of the floor.
Game 2 was also more the same for the Nuggets. They struggled offensively and only put up 98 points. The Suns, on the other hand, went wild and scored 71 points in the second half. Denver fell apart in the third quarter yet again on both ends of the floor. Jokic was the main source of the Nuggets offense in this game while the Suns got a very balanced attack from their stars and role players.
Game 3 featured another poor shooting game from the Nuggets. Despite Jokic’s 32 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists, the Nuggets just didn’t have enough offensively. Monte Morris finally had it going scoring 21 in a losing effort. The Suns had all five starters in double figures led by Devin Booker who scored 28 in their Game 3 victory. The biggest takeaway was that the Nuggets lost these three games in the third quarter. That’s when they played their worst basketball after keeping it close early on.
Chris Paul Picking the Nuggets Defense Apart
This was a big reason as to why the Suns offense was clicking on all cylinders in this entire series. Paul was slicing the Nuggets defense with his playmaking and in the pick-and-roll game. He has gotten to his spots at will in this series.
In Game 4, this was on full display. Paul led the way in this game with 37 points on 14 for 19 shooting and added seven assists as well as two steals. The Jokic ejection after a flagrant two foul late in the third quarter lit a fire under the Nuggets in this game, but Paul’s calming presence for the Suns was what kept the Nuggets at bay. The Nuggets played their best game in Game 4 but in the end, Paul and Booker were too much for them to overcome.
In this series, Paul’s efficiency was off the charts. He shot 62.7 percent from the field and had 41 assists on only five turnovers. We are seeing Paul play some of his best basketball in his career right now, it’s a spectacle to behold. It’s also safe to say that he looks rejuvenated after suffering a shoulder injury in the first round of the playoffs.
Phoenix had a lot of players who stepped up in this series, but Paul was by far their best player in these four games. Paul averaged 25.5 points, five rebounds, 10.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game this series. Booker also played well in this series. He averaged 25.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per contest. The other Suns starters in Mikal Bridges, Deandre Ayton, and Jae Crowder also had some nice contributions in this series. On the other side, Jokic was by far Denver’s best performer. He averaged 25 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game this series.
Up Next For the Phoenix Suns
The Suns will get some much-needed rest before the start of the Western Conference Finals. They will face off against the winner of the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers series. Regardless of who Phoenix plays, it will be a difficult test for them. At the end of the day, the healthiest team in the playoffs usually wins.
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