Are the Phoenix Suns going to wish that they had their Game 5 opportunity back? A return trip to Staples Center is now in order for Wednesday night, as the Suns fell 116-102 with a chance to close out the series and go to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993.
The Suns really never had a chance to create drama. They trailed by 10 at the end of the first quarter and never cut into the deficit. Another big third quarter from the Clippers extended the lead out to 12 points and the fourth quarter was anti-climactic in the desert on Monday.
Phoenix is -1 with a total of 215 at Bovada Sportsbook to finish out the series on Wednesday. Will it happen this time around?
The last win is the hardest one to get. Devin Booker had 31 points in the losing effort, but was only 9-of-22 from the floor. Chris Paul had a horrible game. He had 22 points, but was only 8-of-19 from the floor and missed all six threes. We even saw Deandre Ayton struggle a bit from the floor with just 10 points. It was like everybody had an off night all at once for the Suns.
Maybe the moment got a little too big. Maybe the Clippers, playing with everything to lose, simply buckled down enough to make life uncomfortable for the Suns. Or maybe the Suns just had a bad night and that happens. When it happens on a grand stage such as this one, it often gets magnified and gets more attention than it should.
The Suns shot 45% from the floor and 35% from three. That has been enough to win in a lot of the playoff games we’ve seen this postseason. The Suns did have 14 turnovers against only 22 assists and just happened to dig an early hole by not defending that changed the complexion of the game.
Los Angeles shot 65.2% from the floor in the first quarter and jumped out to that 10-point lead. It changed the way that Phoenix played throughout the rest of the game and it caused the Suns to get jumpy and a little more selfish than what we’ve seen in the postseason. The Suns only had 15 assists over the final three quarters.
They’ll have to get back to sharing the basketball and using each other in the offense. Everybody started pressing as shots weren’t falling. It was a series of growing pains for a team unaccustomed to that type of spot and even the veteran in Chris Paul was negatively impacted.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Suns also had no answer for Paul George. George was 15-of-20 from the floor and had 41 points to go with his 13 rebounds. The Clippers only had two offensive rebounds, but shot nearly 55% from the field, due in large part to what George was able to do with the basketball in his hands. He also led the team with six assists, so he got other players open as well.
Reggie Jackson dropped 23 points and Marcus Morris had a huge game with 22 points. Morris’s health has been a question over the last week or so, but he had a big game at the time when his team needed it the most. The Clippers even got a huge game from DeMarcus Cousins with 15 points.
Veterans. All veteran players. That was the difference in Game 5. The Clippers, with their backs against the wall, got big games from guys that have played in big moments, albeit mostly with other teams. The Suns didn’t get that. It was a learning experience for Phoenix. If the Suns can wipe the slate clean, they’ll be fine. If they cannot, then we could see a Game 7 if the Clippers do the same things.
The first quarter and the third quarter have been so huge for the Clippers in these playoffs. A lot has been said about Tyronn Lue’s ability to make adjustments and the Clippers seem to always play well at the start of games and at the start of the third quarter. Those are really important quarters and the Clippers are still alive in this series because of those in Game 5.
Suns vs. Clippers Free Pick
It sure looked like the Clippers were out of gas and the series would be over after five games, but that was not the case, as Los Angeles rallied and forced this Game 6 on Wednesday. That makes this game a complete toss-up. However, the Clippers found something offensively and it seems like the Suns should be better the next time out. The over 215 looks like a play.
Pick: Over 215