Sport NBA Playoffs 2021: Chris Paul dominates and Phoenix Suns race out to a 2-0 series lead over Denver Nuggets
NBA Playoffs 2021: What to watch for in three Game 5s on Wednesday
The NBA Playoffs continue with a trio of Game 5s on Wednesday (AEST), including two pivotal meetings in the Western Conference while the Nets look to advance past the first round.The slate begins as the Brooklyn Nets host the Boston Celtics with an opportunity to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time since 2014. From there, it continues with two pivotal games, as the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers return to the Mile High City with the series tied at two games apiece. Later, the Phoenix Suns look to regain control of their series with the Los Angeles Lakers as they return to The Valley of the Sun with the series tied 2-2.
Home court defended.
The Phoenix Suns blew out the Denver Nuggets 123-98 in Game 2, dominating on both ends of the floor led by stars Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
With the series now shifting to Denver, let's take a look at some of the takeaways from an impressive Phoenix performance.
MVP Chris Paul
With the official MVP also on the floor in Nikola Jokic, Chris Paul heard thunderous MVP chants of his own at the free-throw line.
The veteran point guard looks to have shaken off any lingering shoulder soreness, delivering a clinic in Game 2. Paul finished with 17 points, five rebounds and 15 assists on 6-for-10 from the floor and 2-for-2 from beyond the arc.
NBA Playoffs 2021: Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets series preview
The Suns and Nuggets played one of the most competitive season series, but Denver will enter without key rotation players in Jamal Murray, Will Barton and PJ Dozier. Can the MVP favourite in Nikola Jokic help the shorthanded Nuggets make a series of this?Now, both young teams face-off in the Conference Semifinals, the third straight for the Nuggets but the first since 2010 for the Suns.
The 15 assists came with zero turnovers, giving him 26 assists and just one turnover in the series thus far.
As is customary with Paul, a number of the dimes were of the highlight variety.
This sequence is ART.— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) x
The trademark lob.
CP3 lobs it up to Ayton ????— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT)
Paul did it all in Game 2.
Red hot Suns blitz Nuggets in third again
In Game 1, it was a late third-quarter blitz that sparked the win for Phoenix and their fondness for the third period continued in Game 2.
Leading by 10 points at the half, the roof nearly came off the arena in the third as the Suns' stifling defence and irresistible transition offence blew the Nuggets away.
NBA Playoffs 2021: Chris Paul leads balanced offence as big second-half run helps Suns comfortably clinch Game 1
After averaging just 9.2 points in the first round of the 2021 postseason, Chris Paul finished with 21 points in Game 1, including in the fourth quarter alone, as the Suns comfortably clinched Game 1 by turning the game on its head with a monster 39-12 run in the second half.Led by their starters, who combined for 99 of their total points, the young team flipped the game on its head with a huge second-half run and eventually cruised to a 122-105 win to take a 1-0 series lead.
The Suns outscored the Nuggets 34-25 for the period to open up an 86-67 edge heading to the fourth quarter.
In total, Phoenix have outscored Denver 65-46 across two games in the third.
Ayton foul trouble
Coming off a terrific performance in Game 1, Deandre Ayton found himself in early foul trouble in Game 2.
Picking up his second foul with 7:04 to play in the first quarter, Phoenix head coach Monty Williams trusted his young centre to play eight minutes in the first frame.
In a sign of maturity, Ayton would not pick up another foul for the entire game, finishing with a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double.
It was an ice-cold start to the game for Denver, with the team combining to go 4-for-22 from long range in the first half. Michael Porter Jr. was particularly cold, scoring just two points from eight shot attempts including an 0-for-6 mark from beyond the arc.
The Nuggets shot 4-22 (18.2%) on 3-pt FG attempts in the 1st half of Game 2 vs the Suns tonight.
NBA Playoffs 2021: Devin Booker and Chris Paul sink Denver Nuggets as Phoenix Suns take commanding 3-0 lead
The Denver Nuggets are officially on the brink of elimination. Chris Paul and Devin Booker were once again the stars for the Phoenix Suns, with the No. 2 seed now taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.In the latest clinical performance from Monty Williams' squad, the back court duo of Devin Booker and Chris Paul once again starred to lead Phoenix to the 116-102 win.
That's tied for their 2nd-worst 3-pt shooting half over the last 25 seasons, regular season or playoffs (min. 20 attempts).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo)
Jokic was the only Denver starter looking likely, with the MVP posting 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting while the other four starters combined for 16 on 7-for-26 from the floor.
Overall, Denver finished 36-for-90 on field goals and 14-for-43 on triples.
Lone hand Joker
The MVP felt like the only one capable of scoring in this one, tallying 24 points and 13 rebounds while dishing out six assists.
In continuing the theme from above, the nine made shots from Jokic matched the entire output of the other four starters.
Looking fatigued by the end of the night it's clear Jokic needs help if Denver are to keep the series alive with a win in Game 3.
That help could come in the form of Will Barton, with the key rotation piece returning to the lineup under a minute restriction.
It was a particularly strong start from Barton, who connected on three of his first four shots before finishing with 10 points in 15 minutes.
NBA MVP ejected as Suns sweep Nuggets in playoffs
The Suns roared into the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 11 years, while Nikola Jokic was ejected.Chris Paul scored 37 points and Devin Booker added 34 in a physical game marred by Jokic's ejection.
It was the first time Barton had seen the floor since late April, with the 30-year-old missing the last 20 games with a hamstring injury.
Booker rolls on
In a testament to the impressive depth of the Phoenix roster and high calibre play from role players, the Suns hardly needed a scoring outburst from Booker tonight.
The All-Star guard chipped in with 18 points and 10 rebounds on 14 shots, moving the ball and playing within the offence.
Defence to offence.
Sources: Playoff Book is a MOOD.
… it’s us, we’re the source— Phoenix Suns (@Suns)
D-Book and-one. Count it ????— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT)
As seen above, it was more about moments rather than overall dominance from Booker as an impressive debut postseason run continues.
The series will take just one night off, with Game 3 and 4 set for Ball Arena in Denver.
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NBA Playoffs 2021: Phoenix Suns focus on their 'brand of basketball' amidst recent Chris Paul adversity .
After going relatively unscathed through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Suns face adversity with the possible absence of Chris Paul for the start of the Conference Finals. However, the team is focused on its "brand of basketball," and how can the Suns hold on until Paul returns?With the addition of Chris Paul in the offseason, nearly everybody expected the franchise to rise from the ashes of the past decade.