By Cameron Buford, Whatsgoodinsports.com

6/30/21 Phoenix Suns vs Los Angeles Clippers WCF, Game 6

This Clippers team already made it further than any Clippers team had in the past. Paul George’s historic Game 5 performance of 41 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists vs. the Suns, in which he accomplished something no other player has done in NBA Playoffs history, kept them alive in this season’s playoffs, if only for one more game.

Although George averaged 30.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 1.4 SPG in the Western Conference Finals, the NBA fans had yet to see their best from the Suns. As they closed out the Clippers in Game 6, the Suns gave the Clipper their worse loss of the playoffs when Chris Paul erupted for his own 41-point game, which just so happened to be the highest scoring output of the entire season. After playing their 19th playoff game in 39 nights, the Clippers appeared “to be gassed” Head Coach Ty Lue would reflect post-game. In their final home game of this series, the Clippers would need Paul George to put up another monumental performance to stay alive in these playoffs however, what they got was much less inspiring. He finished the game with, 21 points 9 rebounds, and only 2 assists, while only shooting only 1 for 6 from behind the arc.

Devin Booker had enough of Pat Beverley and Terance Mann’s defense as he decided to get his shots up in Game 6, as he shot 6/13 for 14 points in the first half. The Clippers allowed 31 points from the Sun’s backcourt of Chris Paul, Booker, and Cameron Payne in the half as they took control of the game.

More evidence of the Clipper’s fatigue was visible in their second-chance points effectiveness in this game, as the Suns took that 15-7 advantage into the locker room. As the Sun’s lead grew to 80-67, so did their advantage in second-chance points 17-9. The Suns would finish the game with a 19-10 second chance point advantage.

More critically to the Clippers’ season-ending loss was Chris Paul’s refusal to allow this series to go back to Phoenix for a Game 7 and get to the NBA Finals for the first time in his career. Paul shot 7-9 from the field while shooting 3-3 from behind the arc and scoring 22 points in that all-important 4th quarter.

Not only were the Clippers out of energy in this game, the Suns the lineup of Cam Payne, Devine Booker, and Chris Paul, but also proved to be too much for the Clippers to defend. Conversely, their backcourt lineup of Patrick Beverley, Terance Mann, and Reggie Jackson shot 38.4% from the field and a disappointing 25% from 3 point range while scoring 29 points in what would their final game of this season. Ty Lue would say post-game, “Hats off to Phoenix. They did a hell of a job. Monty Williams, one of the best coaches in this league and just the culture he set, bringing CP in, young team, having everyone buy into their role and what they want to do. CP was fantastic tonight, 41 points, eight assists. Booker is a star already at a young age. They have a great foundation there with the coaches, James Jones, the job he’s done with CP and Booker.”

Ty Lue would also say about their season, “When I think back to this season, I’ll think back to the playoff run we had, and being down in the series both those first two and fighting back and winning those, and you know, what we did this year was special!”

Post-Game, Paul George was asked about his thoughts on the teams’ personnel, to which he responded by saying, “I think we didn’t get here for no reason. We had the pieces we needed. We just have pieces that got hurt during the process. It’s really what it just came down to. We had the pieces to get to where we wanted to get to.”

Additionally, George was asked about his involvement in convincing/ recruiting players like Reggie Jackson and Kawhi Leonard to stick around for the next season. He responded by saying, “Well, one of the commitments I made signing my contract was to show I’m here for the long run and I’m committed to this team. Hopefully, that weighs on anybody’s decision. But it’s no hard feelings. You know, these guys, they got decisions to make on their own. I will definitely try to. I haven’t talked to any of them. But hopefully, this is where they want to continue to play and grow and be something and do something special in the long run. Yeah, I’m definitely going to try my hardest to recruit. That’s all I could do.”

As this season run falls short of a desired NBA Finals appearance, with the leadership of Head Coach Ty Lue, they’ve had the best run-in franchise history. As a firm believer in applauding the progress, I applaud the Clippers for getting to

unchartered territories. They must now be even more vigilant in rebuilding this team to take the next step next season. Resigning Kawhi Leonard needs to be the first order of business in that process. What changes, if any, would you like to see? Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @whatsgoodnsport to let me know your thoughts on the Clippers season as a whole. Also, forward any suggestions on what additional topics or angles you’d like to see discussed to info@whatsgoodinsports.com.

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