Devin Booker put the entire state of Arizona on his back as the Phoenix Suns eliminated the Los
Angeles Lakers in 6 games. The Suns will face the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference
GAME 6 MUCH LIKE GAME 5
The Suns were led by an impressive, but typical clutch offensive performance of 47 points to
give Phoenix the edge in game six by a score of 113-100. Chris Paul, hindered by a right
shoulder contusion, still dished 12 assists and Jae Crowder’s clutch perimeter shooting led to 18
points including 6 of the Suns’ 18 3-pointers. Cam Johnson led the bench with 10 points over
20 solid minutes.
The Suns’ victory tonight marks the first playoff series victory in 11 years, where the Suns lost to
these Los Angeles Lakers. After over a decade of futility, the 2021 Suns are markedly different
than the 2010 Suns led by a productive, but aging Steve Nash and an outbound Amar’e
Stoudemire. One thing is for certain, the Suns and the Lakers didn’t like each other back in
2010, and they definitely do not like each other now. Chippy, physical basketball dominated this
series, and that physicality boiled over into violence, as evidenced by the ejection of Cameron
Payne in game 3, and Jae Crowder in the closing seconds of game 6.
THE REST OF THE WEST
The Suns will face the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals, after Nikola Jokic
and Jamal Murray bested valiant but fruitless offences performances from Damian Lillard and
the Portland Trailblazers. The Suns face a certain challenge in Denver, which almost certainly
will rely on the health of Chris Paul’s right shoulder, the ability of DeAndre Ayton to remain a
defensive stalwart in the paint, and the field goal percentage.
The other Western Conference semifinal is already occupied by the top-seed Utah Jazz, who
defeated the Memphis Grizzlies three games to one. The winner of the Los Angeles Clippers
and the Dallas Mavericks, the latter of which is enjoying a 3-2 series advantage led by Luka
Doncic’s gutsy 42-point effort, battling a neck injury.
MAYBE THE 602 WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG, WILBON
Long-time ESPN personality and co-host of Pardon the Interruption Michael Wilbon said today
that no one “outside of the 602” is expecting the Phoenix Suns to win this series, and most
expected the Lakers to emerge victorious from the West. Now that the Suns disproved the
experts, the Western Conference Playoffs are now anybody’s game.
While it would have been nice to bring home this long-awaited victory in front of the home crowd
at Phoenix Suns Arena, there is something extra sweet about clinching this series the Staple’s
Center, the building where all too many Suns seasons were ended far to quickly. It has always
been a rivalry between these two things, but the Lakers have always relegated the Suns to little
brother status. This series should do something to change that narrative. Either way, the
Lakers are going to Cancun, and that feels pretty darn good.
Matt Riedel is a correspondent for the Western Tribune and a sports contributor.