Clippers vs. Suns takeaways: Chris Paul comes up clutch yet again, leads Phoenix back to postseason

Kawhi Leonard could have missed Wednesday’s heavyweight tilt involving the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns, but his teammates stepped up to give admirers an exciting 48 minutes of basketball. The Suns led by as numerous as 14 factors, but the Clippers bought to in a one stage in the fourth quarter prior to Phoenix pulled absent to earn it, 109-one hundred and one. By doing so, the Suns punched their ticket into the playoffs.

The victory pushed the Suns to forty four-eighteen on the period while the Clippers, continue to awaiting Leonard’s return, are now forty three-21. The Clippers haven’t been healthier for really a while, and with time operating out in the regular period, are in desperate have to have of reinforcements as they try to drop on the proper side of the bracket. This game’s huge seeding implications are amongst the 3 most significant takeaways from tonight’s battle. 

one. The Suns are relocating up, the Clippers are relocating down

Initial thing’s first: the Phoenix Suns are officially heading to the playoffs. Their 11-yr drought, the second-longest in basketball at the rear of the Sacramento Kings, is over as Phoenix’s victory clinched a spot in the postseason. Of system, the Suns have substantially loftier ambitions than that. Ideal now, they are actively playing for household-courtroom gain. The Suns at present trail the No. one seeded Utah Jazz by only a single activity in the standings and the two enjoy on Friday. If Phoenix wins, they capture the tiebreaker with close to two months to enjoy. 

The Clippers, in the meantime, lost their ideal possibility at catching Phoenix for No. two. They now trail the Suns by two online games, while they clinched the tiebreaker previously in the period. Now, their emphasis is on holding their situation instead than improving it. They at present guide the Denver Nuggets by only a one activity in the standings, and they’ll facial area off on Saturday with the tiebreaker on the line. It is quite possible that the winner of that activity will be the No. three seed in the Western Conference. 

That is most likely the most significant seed in the total bracket this period because the damage-riddled Lakers are lingering as the possible No. 5 seed. Remaining at No. three implies staying away from them in the first two rounds. Slipping to No. four implies actively playing them proper off the bat. The Lakers will be looking at how this plays out extremely diligently. If the crew they want to enjoy is at No. three, they could attempt to slip to No. 6. The Dallas Mavericks trail them by a single in the reduction column and have the tiebreaker, so the Lakers are rarely set in their very own situation.

The ultimate days of the regular period are heading to be a mad sprint to avoid the Lakers. The Lakers will most likely attempt to avoid the Clippers. Thankfully for the Suns, Wednesday’s victory was their ticket out of that mess. They can struggle for the top seed realizing that their worst-circumstance scenario will be most likely mean actively playing towards the ideal enjoy-in crew in the first round. 

two. Clutch Paul

Loss of life, taxes, and Chris Paul in the clutch. They are life’s terrific certainties. It was only two evenings in the past that Paul ended New York’s 9-activity winning streak with an absurd fourth-quarter taking pictures exhibit. He was up to his aged methods once more Wednesday. He scored only 3 factors in the first fifty percent but went off for 25 to bury the Clippers in the second.

Paul is, unsurprisingly, amongst the NBA’s ideal clutch scorers once more this period with three.6 factors for each clutch activity. Phoenix has a 21-11 history in the clutch thanks to Paul, and that determine is essentially rather disappointing based on his keep track of history. The Thunder went 30-15 in the clutch previous period, and Paul led them to the NBA’s ideal clutch offensive rating. He did so in Houston as nicely in 2018. 

Paul is not heading to earn MVP. He would not submit the gaudiest quantities. But Phoenix has a possibility to earn a championship strictly because Paul is there. For the first time because Steve Nash left, they have somebody capable of matching LeBron James, Kevin Durant or any other celebrity late in playoff online games. Paul proved it once more on Wednesday. His keep track of history, at this stage, is basically bulletproof.

three. The other Paul

Paul George experienced the opposite of Chris Paul’s night time. He scored 15 factors in the first quarter, but only 10 the relaxation of the way. George’s clutch foibles will not have to have to be relitigated, and he is certainly much more unsafe when Leonard plays. But even with his late-activity issues on Wednesday, it ought to be famous that George did rating 25 on the night time. Just after dropping 39 and 33 in his first two online games towards the Suns, George wound up averaging 32.three for each activity towards them on the period. 

That accomplishment is rather stunning given Phoenix’s staff. The Suns have a range of practical wing defenders to throw at George. Even when Mikal Bridges is occupied with Leonard, Jae Crowder and Torrey Craig are no slouches. Maybe Leonard’s absence, and the excess attention it place on George, contributed to his struggles afterwards in this activity, but on harmony, he has finished nicely in this matchup. That’s worthy of looking at as these groups equipment up for a feasible second-round playoff matchup.