Phoenix Suns vs. LA Clippers - 9:00 pm ET (ESPN) - Suns lead 2-0
Seeing as the Philadelphia 76ers’ playoff run has ended in spectacular fashion, it’s time to turn to the rest of the NBA for two highly entertaining Conference Finals matchups. While Kawhi Leonard (sprained right knee) and Chris Paul (health and safety protocols) have both been sidelined, the Suns have gotten off to a 2-0 start in their series against the Clippers.
Devin Booker exploded to lead the way in Game 1 with 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, before cooling off in Game 2 (5-of-16 shooting for 20 points, including a huge go-ahead jumper with 27 seconds left). It didn’t matter too much, though. Deandre Ayton has continued his excellent postseason with stellar efficiency and assertiveness as a finisher (he’s averaging 16.3 points on 72.6 shooting in the playoffs), strong rebounding and defense, putting up 24 points on 12-of-15 shooting in Game 2. Cameron Johnson chipped in with 11 points on perfect 5-of-5 shooting in 24 minutes. Cameron Payne stepped up yet again with 29 points and 9 assists, before the contest ultimately came down to one dramatic play after several long delays from various reviews.
With just 0.9 seconds left on the clock, Jae Crowder delivered a pin-point lob from the baseline, Booker set a back screen on Ivica Zubac, and Ayton took off down the lane to hammer home the game-winning alley-oop.
JAE CROWDER INBOUNDS IT TO DEANDRE AYTON FOR THE DUNK TO PUT THE @SUNS UP 2-0!#ThatsGame #NBAPlayoffs#WeAreTheValley pic.twitter.com/ltuQI6lxNl— NBA (@NBA) June 23, 2021
Reggie Jackson has been on fire in the playoffs and has continued to score well, but there’s only so much he and the rest of the Clippers’ supporting cast can do to help Paul George against an elite two-way team like Phoenix.
To give the Suns another boost, Chris Paul is now available to play in Game 3. Unfortunately for the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard remains out.