Paul inspires Suns to reach NBA Finals

July 2, 2021
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    Chris Paul with the Western Conference titleChris Paul joined the Phoenix Suns from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2020

    The Phoenix Suns reached the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993 after wrapping up the Western Conference finals title against the Los Angeles Clippers.

    They beat the Clippers 130-103 to secure a 4-2 series win.

    Chris Paul was the key figure for the Suns with 41 points while Devin Booker added 22.

    They will face either the Milwaukee Bucks or Atlanta Hawks in the best-of-seven championship final.

    Paul, 36, has been selected for 11 NBA All-Star teams and won two Olympic golds with the USA, but this is the first time the former Clipper has reached the Finals after joining the Suns last year from Oklahoma City.

    "This feels good," he said. "It has a been a lot of work, going to a new team, everybody staying the course.

    "Sixteen years of this, 16 years of surgeries, of hard work, of losses – bad losses. We're going to enjoy tonight."

    Paul, who played for the Clippers between 2011 and 2017, added: "I'm just so happy for all the people around me. To do it here against a team I have the utmost respect for. I'll always be a Clipper. I love these fans."

    The Suns, who had failed to even reach the play-offs for 10 consecutive seasons prior to the 2020-2021 campaign. had missed the chance to win the series at home on Monday but they made no mistake at the Staples Center.

    They led by 17 points near the end of the third quarter before the Clippers, who had lost both Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka to injuries during the post-season, hit 10 unanswered points.

    But Paul took centre stage again with eight points to extend the Suns advantage. His four-point play midway through the fourth quarter then took them into a 111-92 lead, and from then on there was no way back for the Clippers.

    The Suns had worked hard to stop Clippers star Paul George, who scored 41 points in game five, and the home side's frustration was compounded late on when Patrick Beverley was ejected from the game after shoving Paul to the ground.

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