The Phoenix Suns are finally headed back to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2010. It wasn’t easy, but the second-seeded Suns closed out the No. 3 Denver Nuggets in Game 4, 125-118, on Sunday night to complete the series sweep. The Suns will now face off against the winner of the series between the top-ranked Utah Jazz and No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers. The Jazz currently lead that series 2-1.
Just as they have all series, Devin Booker and Chris Paul led the way for Phoenix in Game 3. Booker had 34 points and 11 rebounds, while Paul added a game-high 37 points and 7 assists. In the process, Paul moved up to 13th on the NBA’s all-time postseason assists list. The Suns have now won seven straight games, and appear to be playing their best basketball of the season at the right time.
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Will Barton paced the Nuggets with 25 points, and freshly minted MVP Nikola Jokic added 22 points and 11 rebounds for Denver. Jokic’s night ended early though, as he was ejected late in the third quarter following a flagrant 2 foul on Suns guard Cam Payne. The Nuggets never gave up, but without their leader, they were unable to prevent the Suns from ending their season. After making it to the Western Conference finals last season, the Nuggets took a step back this year. If Jamal Murray was healthy for the series, perhaps it would have gone differently, but without him Denver just didn’t have the firepower to keep up with Phoenix. Now, the Nuggets will enter the offseason, while the Suns will compete to make their first Finals appearance since 1993.
Here’s a look at three major takeaways from Phoenix’s Game 4 win over Denver.
1. An epic Chris Paul performance
Chris Paul was absolutely electric on Sunday night. With the game, and the series, still hanging in the balance, Paul turned back the clock and submitted one of his best-ever postseason performances. In all, Paul tallied 37 points (on 14 of 19 shooting from the floor), seven assists, three rebounds and two steals. The point production was the most that he’s scored in any game since 2018. In the process, he became the oldest player with 35-plus points on 70 percent shooting in a playoff game since 1965.
Paul was especially lethal in the second half. He scored 25 of his 37 points over the final 24 minutes, and he missed just two shots in the entire half as he ran the pick-and-roll to perfection and proceeded to knock down elbow jumper after elbow jumper.
At 36 years old, Paul’s longevity is…