In what could charitably be described as a nasty college basketball, the Suns took a 3–1 lead within the conference finals with an 84–80 convert the Clippers on Saturday. Both teams shot under 40% from the sector and combined to hit only nine threes total in what was a glorified rock fight. Phoenix led by 14 after the primary half, but l. a. chipped away within the last half, coming within one point of the Suns but never tying or taking the lead. For nearly four minutes within the fourth, the sport was stuck at a score of 71–70, emblematic of both teams’ offensive struggles. Here are three thoughts on Phoenix’s victory. Though now just one win far away from the Finals, the Suns need to be slightly concerned about the shooting troubles of Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
Booker led Phoenix in scoring with 25 points but shot only 8-of-22 from the sector. Paul was worse, connecting on only six of his 22 field goal attempts. Together, Booker and Paul shot 31.8% from the ground and missed all of their threes. Neither could quite catch on taking place the stretch either, with Booker fouling out late on a charge, while Paul missed several of his patented pull-up midrange twos with an opportunity to seal the victory. The Clips obviously deserve credit for his or her defensive tenacity. At an equivalent time, Booker is handling his broken nose—he ditched his mask during Game 4—while Paul is trying to re-acquire his rhythm after being stuck within the COVID protocol for 11 days.
The Suns proved in Game 4 they will win an unsightly one. Attempting to travel down this route and win a championship seems dicey, however. If Phoenix does make it to the subsequent round, Book and CP got to find their offense. Nobody played particularly well offensively for the Clippers in Game 4. If anyone provided a spark though, it had been Jackson, who helped propel the comeback with a nine-point fourth quarter. With no threes falling, Jackson hit some timely jumpers inside the arc, ultimately finishing with 20 points to travel alongside five boards and five assists. In the six games, Kawhi Leonard has missed together with his knee injury, Jackson has scored a minimum of 20 in five—and had 19 within the other. With Paul George’s efficiency waning as his burden has increased, Jackson has become an important second scorer for l. a.
Saturday was his first game with but three threes since Game 4 of the Utah series, and he’s absorbing big minutes because the start line guard. Jackson hasn’t been perfect—the Clips could still use a secondary playmaker to assist out George—but he’s thoroughly exceeded expectations considering the circumstances. Los Angeles’s season is on the brink after Saturday’s loss. If there has been a bright side in Leonard’s absence, it’s that Jackson appears to be someone who can make an impression moving forward. The hallmark of this Clippers postseason run has been their ability to handle adversity. Can l. a. dial-up its own 3–1 comeback after falling victim to at least one last season? Ty Lue has been masterful together with his adjustments thus far within the playoffs, and he’ll need a replacement quirk to inject some energy into his club in Game 5.
Will Lue try going small again? Ivica Zubac played a career-high 40 minutes Saturday and delayed well. Still, Lue pulled him out for a few late defensive possessions, and l. a. went back to a lineup almost like what gave them success against the Jazz. The unit didn’t exactly unlock the offense, and it had been vulnerable to offensive rebounds, and yet it might be the simplest way for the Clips to seek out their groove from the three-point line. (Then again, L.A. missed many clean looks from beyond the arc in Game 4.) Maybe the subsequent game brings out Rajon Rondo (who didn’t play Saturday after getting only eight minutes in Game 3.) Maybe Luke Kennard or Nic Batum see longer after both played but 20 minutes. Lue, the top coach of perhaps the best 3–1 comeback in NBA history, will get to find similar magic if he hopes to increase the Clippers’ season on Monday.