The Phoenix Suns advance to their first Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2010 after completing the sweep against the Denver Nuggets.
The Suns backcourt delivered the knockout blow in the road with Chris Paul scoring a season-high 37 points, while Devin Booker added 34 points, 11 rebounds and four assists as they held off the nuggets' late rally to win 125-118.
Let's jump into the key takeaways at the buzzer.
Chris Paul is a mid-range assassin
Who said the mid-range was dead?
As we've seen throughout this playoff run, Chris Paul's mid-range game is automatic.
At one point in the third quarter, he torched the Nuggets on four straight possessions, getting to his favourite spot on the right elbow and rising up for what is effectively a layup for the 36-year-old.
"HE IS HOUDINI."- NBA (@NBA) June 14, 2021
6-6 in the 3Q. 24 PTS in the game.
Chris. Paul. #ThatsGame pic.twitter.com/nQdxUuPEkH
He scored 12 points in the quarter on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting, all coming from mid-range, which is tied for the most by any player in a playoff quarter over the past 20 seasons, per ESPN Stats & Info
Chris Paul (@CP3) made 6 mid-range jumpers in the 3rd quarter.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 14, 2021
That is tied for the most by any player in a playoff quarter over the last 20 seasons. @Suns
The last player to do this was LeBron James in 2018. pic.twitter.com/zWbkg2kVIC
Paul scored 25 of his 37 in the second half, adding seven assists, three rebounds and two steals, passing Isiah Thomas to move to 13th in all-time playoff assists.
As for being the King of the mid-range? Paul's 37 came on a scorching 14-of-19 from the field, without a single 3-point attempt.
Tempers flared with 3:52 remaining in the third quarter as Nikola Jokic was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul - his first in the past three seasons.
Jokic swiped at Cameron Payne, catching him across the face as he attempted to steal the ball, with the MVP and Devin Booker exchanging words as the pair had to be separated by teammates.
Jokic got ejected after this hard foul on Payne 😯 pic.twitter.com/EvG1Dfvuub- Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 14, 2021
With the officials deeming it 'unnecessary and excessive contact', Jokic was ejected from the game., while Booker was assessed a technical for his actions after the foul.
The Nuggets made a spirited run in the fourth quarter, but without the big man on the floor, their offensive options were limited.
He exited the game finishing with 22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes.
Crowder doing the dirty work
Jae Crowder put forth a hard-nosed 3&D performance, recording nine points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, playing high-level defence all night.
All four of his blocks came in the first half, tying a Suns franchise record for most blocks in a playoff half, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Crowder up to 3⃣ blocks in the 1st Q!#NBAPlayoffs on TNT pic.twitter.com/vUO1xdqVlZ- NBA (@NBA) June 14, 2021
In a closeout game on the road, Crowder's veteran experience helped set the tone for the young Suns alongside Paul.
Devin Booker...closeout specialist
After dropping 47 points in the Suns' closeout game against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, Devin Booker was filling it up again in Game 4.
Winning their second-straight closeout game on the road, Booker has now scored 81 combined points, finishing with 34 points tonight.
Book fills the cup in #PhantomCam. 🥤@Suns 33@nuggets 27- NBA (@NBA) June 14, 2021
2Q on TNT pic.twitter.com/5UcaU7S9Ag
Booker has established himself as a star, but after going 121-280 in his first five NBA seasons, the 24-year-old is now heading to the Conference Finals in his first trip to the post-season.
"He's not afraid of the moment, that's the deal," Suns head coach Monty Williams said post-game.
"I've watched him for two years work his tail off so he can be ready for this moment and this stage, he's fearless... his fearlessness helps us on the big stage and it has throughout these playoffs."
While Paul has been on the playoff stage many times before, you can hardly tell this is Booker's first post-season. The star backcourt dictated the game from start to finish, becoming the first Suns teammates to each score 30+ in a playoff game since Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire in 2005.
The Suns will get to put their feet up with a week off as they await their Western Conference Finals opponent in the winner of the Clippers vs. Jazz series.
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