The Western Conference Finals started on Sunday with an explosive performance from Phoenix Suns’ All-Star Devin Booker. Booker finished with a 40-point triple-double in a Phoenix victory that puts them up 1-0 in their series against the Los Angeles Clippers. This triple-double sparked the team who were without point guard and all-star Chris Paul, who entered COVID protocol last Wednesday.
“I like the way Devin did it,” coach Monty Williams said. “He didn’t inject himself into the game. He just did it out of what we do. There are times where a guy scores and you just want to go grab the ball and jack up a shot. I thought the way Devin did it tonight was within our scheme and what we do.”
Booker joins LeBron James, Luka Doncic, Bob McAdoo, Rick Barry and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to have multiple 40-point performances in their first playoff. He also is the first Suns player since Steve Nash to put up a playoff triple-double.
“We knew we were all going to have to give it a little bit more,” said Devin Booker after the game, “stuff that usually is on Chris’ plate, we all had to make up for it together as a team.”
Booker was not forcing anything on Sunday. He had 11 assists with only two turnovers, showing that his passes led not only to good looks, but put the team in the best position to get points on the board. With his shot as well, Booker was patient. He consistently looked for the best play or look for his team. He didn’t jack up shots or have a selfish mentality.
Booker’s 11-assists were part of Phoenix’s 31 assists total while only committing 7 turnovers. The Suns moved the ball quickly and without error. The ball would swing from player to player, which normally led to an open Ayton dunk or a three-point attempt. This ball movement led to the Clippers sometimes looking confused or losing players that led to scoring opportunities.
“The spacing…guys being in the extreme corners is something we try to work on,” said Head Coach Monty Williams. “When Book gets downhill, he knows where the reads are.”
Booker truly is becoming a superstar player during the playoffs. He is not only proving himself to doubters, but to those who hardly thought of him due to the losing situation in Phoenix before this season. Through years where the Suns would finish in the bottom half of the league, Booker has put up 22+ points since his sophomore season. Only Suns fans really understood how good he was until the bubble last year.
After these playoffs, Devin Booker will be thought of as a near superstar player. He’s now proven he can not only be an all-star in the regular season but he can be a leader that can win in the playoffs. Chris Paul struggled in the series against the Los Angeles Lakers to stay on the court due to his shoulder injury. Booker kept the Suns in it and eventually led them to a series win against the defending champs and the favorite to win the West this year.
“That’s who Book is,” Williams said. “He’s been waiting for this moment, these moments for a long, long time.”
At the age of 24, it’s scary to think that he hasn’t even hit his full potential. His six years in the NBA already makes him one of the longest-tenured players on Phoenix. Now with the right people around him in the front office, coaching staff and personnel, Booker’s game can develop into a player NBA players would have never thought. Devin Booker’s instantly becoming a must-watch player in the league.
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