Phoenix Suns: Things Getting Chippy with Los Angeles Clippers

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns built a strong reputation for themselves during the regular season as a squad willing to stand up against anyone, basketball related or not. With grit, fortitude, courage, and in coincidence with their team name, the Suns usually bring the fire, rather than taking it when out on the floor. This has only continued in the postseason.

Some rifts between LeBron James and Phoenix swingman Jae Crowder ensued during the first round, and then Devin Booker nearly squared up with MVP Nikola Jokic during the Conference Semifinals. Jokic’s brothers nearly charged onto the court to make run at Booker themselves at one point.

Phoenix’s fans even seem motivated to mirror their team’s fiery spirit. The now famous “Suns in Four” Guy and his defense against some antagonistic Denver Nuggets fans made headlines as perhaps the best fan-story seen by the NBA in years.

But now, the Suns find themselves tussling with the Los Angeles Clippers, their Western Conference Finals opponent, who they just so happen to have on the ropes right now, up three games to one.

Oddly enough, this chippy attitude began to take place as Game 2 reached its end, when DeMarcus Cousins abruptly shoved Cameron Payne and then Booker as each team walked off the court. Likely soar over Deandre Ayton’s game-winning alley-oop a few moments ago, Boogie Cousins once again let his emotions take over him, and officials even assessed him a postgame technical foul.

The officials managed to keep things under control during the following contest. Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley exchanged a few bumps and shoves with Booker halfway through the third period following a strong drive to the basket, but both players drew quick technical fouls, throwing cold water over everything.

Beverley seemingly head-butted Booker the game before, breaking his nose and forcing him to wear a mask. Beverley received no punishment following their cranial collision, but the play still seemed a bit hostile to most watching given the bloodshed.

The scuffles continued during Game 4 when Paul George drove to the hoop near the first quarter’s conclusion, prompting Booker to foul him as he rose up for a near layup. Popping right up after a hard fall, George stepped toward Booker and shoved him. Beverley of all people pulled George away from Booker, but still received a technical foul.

Just a few seconds later, Payne got into a brief altercation with Terance Mann. Trying to post him up, Payne began backing down Mann along the block. Mann then started swatting at the ball over Payne’s head, hitting him around his upper-chest. Taking offense, Payne spun off him and started shouting his way. He earned then earned the game’s a second technical foul in 40 seconds.

The more rugged, old-fashioned basketball fans might call all this bumping and shoving soft, and for good reason given the league’s past regarding “fights” between players, if you can even refer to these quarrels as such. But as most know, these team’s already own a not so friendly history with each other.

Booker and George nearly threw hands during a regular season game with only a few minutes left to play. After Payne flew over George, fouling and knocking him down after biting on a shot attempt, PG13 took offense, and began shouting at Payne.

Protecting his teammate, Booker then stepped up and exchanged some words with George. The two needed both their team’s to seperate them as their shouting continued. The Suns lost that game 112-107.

But with desperation likely influencing the Clippers to its greatest extent tonight, keep an eye out for even more fireworks to go off. The Suns need to outplay Los Angeles for only 48 more minutes tonight to make their first NBA Finals appearance since 1993. Meanwhile, the Clippers find themselves with their first chance to ever play for an NBA title slowly slipping through their fingers.

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Along with desperation, a situation such as that inspires anxiety and aggression. With large personalities like Marcus Morris, alongside Beverley and Cousins standing subjected to it, the Suns need to stay ready for anything the Clippers might throw at them, pertaining to basketball, and all else.