The Phoenix Suns looked like sitting ducks at one point, and then true contenders the very next during their opening playoff series with the Los Angeles Lakers. But while navigating their way around LeBron James legacy debates and Anthony Davis injury speculations, the Phoenix Suns emerged from the fog, defeating the league’s reigning champions and ascending into the Western Conference Semifinals.
Devin Booker offered a stunning sequel to his eight-game playoff-esque bubble run from last summer, averaging 29.7 points per game while shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three. He too added a 47-point and 11-rebound performance to help close out Los Angeles during Game 6.
Although not exactly a surprise, but still as a much welcomed sight, Deandre Ayton stepped up his game as well. Even while playing against perhaps the league’s most astute interior defensive squad, Ayton averaged 15.8 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. His efficiency skyrocketed as well, as he shot 79.6 percent from the field opposed to his 62.6 percent mark from the regular season.
Perhaps no player represented the series’s up and down nature better than Chris Paul though, who nursed a shoulder injury which limited his play substantially midway through the series, before seemingly recovering and looking more like his true self during Games 5 and 6. Cameron Payne stepped up big averaging 12.5 points per game during the series, and Jae Crowder really came on late, most notably with an 18-point performance during Game 6 where he nailed six 3-pointers.
But now a new challenge awaits, with an MVP favorite at its helm. Set to face off against the Denver Nuggets with a trip to the conference finals up for contention, these three matchups will likely dictate who moves on.