Suns, Clippers heading to pivotal Game 5

Published June 28, 2021, 11:00 AMRenee Ticzon

After an ugly Game 4 battle, both the Suns and the Clippers have plenty of things to address, which could define how the rest of their respective seasons play out.

There’s always something good in the bad, but for the Phoenix Suns, there’s not much good to take away from their crucial Game 4 win over the LA Clippers.

Both teams had their lowest scoring game of the 2020-21 season… in the Western Conference Finals. While this win did come at the perfect time, finishing the game with a score of 84-80 was just unacceptable.

The Suns blew a 16-point advantage by allowing the Clippers to score 30 points in the third quarter. This was after limiting them to only 36 the entire first half. By the time they entered the final period, the match was so close that LA almost took the lead as the clock was winding down.

To add fuel to the fire, Phoenix only shot at 36 percent from the field. It was good enough to keep the game in their hands as their opponents only shot 32.5 percent. However, this is the Suns’ second game shooting below 40 percent from the field, which should be a cause for concern.

Not to mention, their guards haven’t been making the impact they did all season. Chris Paul and Devin Booker combined for zero 3-pointers and nine turnovers. Booker even fouled out when things were getting tight.

And yet, the Suns still made a crucial win. This is good for them series-wise because it puts the Clippers in unfamiliar territory, at least for this season. LA was able to make a comeback from a 2-0 deficit in every step of these playoffs. By going 3-1, the Suns disrupted the Clippers’ momentum and forced them into a sticky situation.

Game-wise, however, this could be the Suns’ worst performance despite the win. If Phoenix advances to the NBA Finals, they cannot afford to play like this. Regardless of who wins over in the East, they need to be peaking by the time they reach the highest level. 

Meanwhile, the Clippers need to hit the panic button. This team has to start playing with a sense of urgency with their season on the line. LA’s energy dropped from their Game 4 blowout, which is a source of concern for the franchise. Yes, they are fatigued after playing 16 postseason games with little to no rest, but Game 5 could end what has been a good run. 

The Clippers only shot 16 percent from downtown, making only five the whole game. Remember, this team is more than capable of hitting that total in a quarter when they’re heating up. They lost their spark in Game 4, but it could just be an isolated incident.

If they want to keep this series alive, the Clippers need to act fast. Their adjustment might involve finding another finisher while Kawhi Leonard is still on the sidelines (or the box). While this role should have been under Paul George’s belt, he’s already disappeared twice. This team needs to find someone who can consistently play in the clutch, especially since most of their games against the Suns have been close.

Game 5 could be the Clippers’ last. This game might also be the way they will be remembered as the season is winding down. It’s much easier to remember this team’s postseason run with George’s missed free throws, but of course, the Clippers don’t want that to happen. This team needs to put up a fight regardless of the outcome.

On the other hand, the Suns need to gain some momentum as they move on. Regardless if they’re headed to Game 6 or the NBA Finals, this game may dictate the way they play for the remainder of the postseason, so it has to be good. 

If the Suns end up with three bad games in a row, it may cause a mental burden. But if they make a powerful comeback, then this young team is guaranteed a confidence boost, which will be essential for their next few games.


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