Phoenix Suns advance to NBA Finals with decisive Game 6 victory over L.A. Clippers


Michael Tipton (Flickr)

The Suns open the playoffs on Sunday against the Clippers.

Ole Olafson, Reporter

Updated July 6

Update:  The NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks will begin Tuesday, July 6 from Phoenix Suns Arena.  Opening tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. MST.

The other extra-large basketball shoe finally dropped for eager Suns fans Wednesday night at the Staples Center in L.A. as Phoenix won the Western Conference finals 4-2.

Phoenix put their stamp on the series with an impressive 27-point, Game 6 win over the Clippers to springboard the team into the NBA Finals.

It is the Sun’s first appearance in the Finals since 1993, when they lost 4-2 to Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen’s Chicago Bulls.

It was the Chris Paul show on Wednesday night.

Paul, who used to play for L.A., not only led the Suns in scoring with 41 points, but also became the puppet master late in the game, drawing a technical foul from Demarcus Cousins and causing Patrick Beverly to snap and get thrown out of the game.

Deandre Ayton played a huge role in the win with 16 points and 17 rebounds.

Devin Booker, sans face shield, turned in another stellar performance with 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists — even after taking a shot to his sore nose.

The Suns will face either Atlanta or Milwaukee in the Finals, beginning July 8.

The Hawks and Bucks are currently tied 2-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals, but Milwaukee’s star player, forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, is doubtful for Game 5 after hyperextending his knee in Tuesday night’s loss.

The Suns played Atlanta twice during the regular season.

The two teams were scheduled to play on Jan. 13, but the game was postponed because of contact tracing issues with Phoenix after several Washington Wizard players tested positive for COVID-19 following their game against the Suns two days earlier.

They wound up splitting the series — with Phoenix winning 117-110 on Mar. 30 and Atlanta registering a decisive 135-103 late-season victory on May 5.

Phoenix won both of their regular-season games against Milwaukee — but they were hard-fought battles.

On Feb. 10, Devin Booker’s 30 points helped Phoenix nip the Bucks 125-124.  Then, On Apr. 19 it took overtime before Phoenix eventually pulled off another one-point victory.

The last time Atlanta was in the NBA Finals was 1961, when they lost to the Celtics.

The Bucks last Finals appearance was in 1974 when they also lost to Boston.