Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker has always been a good NBA player. This is supported by the fact that he has averaged at least 20 points per game in five of his six NBA seasons. Unfortunately, Booker has been labeled as a player who was putting up good numbers on a bad team despite his scoring prowess.
But thanks in part to Booker, the Suns ended a playoff drought that dates back to the 2009-10 season. Not only that, but the Suns are also back in the conference finals for the first time since 2010. Booker put together another solid season (25.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per contest). The question was how would he perform in his first playoff run?
In the Suns’ first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers, Booker averaged 29.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and five assists per contest on slash lines of .472/.335/.924. This includes a spectacular 47-point outing in the series finale.
Next up for Booker and the Suns was a second-round matchup against the Denver Nuggets. Booker played well in that four-game set too, compiling averages of 25.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per outing. While his 3-point efficiency dipped a bit from the previous round (30.5%), Booker still shot 50.3% from the floor overall. Additionally, just like he did against the Lakers, Booker closed out this series in style, putting up 34 points to go along with 11 rebounds and four assists.
Booker’s performance in Game 4 propelled the Suns to a conference finals matchup against the LA Clippers. This series had an interesting storyline before it even began. Chris Paul, who the Suns acquired before the start of the season, is in the league’s health and safety protocol.
This is significant because Paul was playing well following a shoulder injury that hampered him in the first round of the playoffs. Let’s not forget that Paul and Booker combined for 71 points in the close-out game against the Nuggets, with Paul scoring 37 points. Needless to say, all eyes would be on Booker.
If you thought the moment would be too big for Booker, you’d be wrong. What did Booker do in the series opener against the Clippers? Well, all he did was have one of the best performances of these NBA playoffs.
Booker put up a 40-point triple-double that included 40 points, along with 13 boards and 11 assists. He shot 15-for-29 from the floor and he connected on three of his seven attempts from beyond the arc. This was the first time Booker accomplished this feat in his career. Furthermore, Booker became just the second Suns player to post a 40-point triple-double in the playoffs. The first was Charles Barkley.
And as a result of Devin Booker’s solid outing, the Suns won 120-114 to take a 1-0 lead. Make no mistake, this is going to be a long series. And there were stretches when the Suns missed Paul’s leadership. But based on his Game 1 performance against the Clippers and how well he’s played in the postseason thus far, Booker is proving that he is capable of carrying a team on the biggest stage. Not too bad for a guy who is playing in the postseason for the first time in his career.
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