Last night, the Phoenix Suns punched their ticket to the NBA Finals, making one of the most unexpected runs that we’ve seen in the NBA in a long time. The team turned heads with its impressive run in the NBA Bubble last season, and with the addition of Chris Paul, parlayed it into a 51-21 year and dominant run through the Western Conference Playoffs.
The Suns hadn’t been over .500 since 2013-14, when 48-34 wasn’t good enough for the team to land the eighth seed in the playoffs. The last postseason berth came in 2009-10, when the team lost in the Conference Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers. That team was led by Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Nash, with Alvin Gentry serving as head coach and Steve Kerr as general manager.
The season has served to enhance or rewrite the legacies of a number of Suns so far. Monty Williams, who previously coached the New Orleans Pelicans, is having an impressive second-job renaissance. James Jones looks like a brilliant young general manager. Devin Booker is nearing superstar status, the No. 1 pick used to take Deandre Ayton isn’t being called into question nearly as much. Chris Paul was already a Hall of Famer, but now he’s reached his first NBA Finals and will be favored to take home a championship for the first time.
It is impossible not to be impressed with what the team’s accomplished. Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry certainly is, as he made clear after last night’s 130-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in last night’s Game 6.
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) July 1, 2021
Paul is considered a leader among the players, and one of the most influential people in the NBA. He’s popular within league circles, so it is no surprise to see so many other big players giving him his flowers during this run.
He exploded last night, scoring 41 points (16-for-24 field goals, 7-for-8 from three), and adding eight assists and four rebounds.
The Phoenix Suns are 12-4 in these playoffs, knocking off the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2, sweeping the Denver Nuggets, and last night, beating the Clippers 4-2. They’ll face the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks-Atlanta Hawks Eastern Conference Finals series, which is now tied at 2-2, and has turned into a war of attrition with injuries to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Trae Young, among others.