The Phoenix Suns appear primed to knock off the vulnerable defending champions.
Even though the Suns had been consistent all season long and finished with the second-best record in the Western Conference, the popular belief was that it still didn’t matter – and that LeBron James and Anthony Davis would rise to the occasion and march their way to the second round.
Through one game, that simply wasn’t the case. In fact, it was far from it. In Game 1, the Suns controlled the tempo and looked like the better team throughout.
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The Phoenix Suns aren’t backing down
In his playoff debut, Devin Booker oftentimes looked like the best player on the floor and was able to do whatever he wanted on the offensive end – no matter who the Lakers threw at him defensively.
Booker finished with 34 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds on 50 percent shooting from the field. He helped fuel the Suns in Game 1 even after Chris Paul sustained a shoulder injury that limited him throughout the game.
It was clear that Paul wasn’t right – and he’s still sore heading into Game 2 – but Booker rose to the occasion and the Suns as a team didn’t miss a beat. Paul finished with just seven points and eight assists.
The fact that Booker, in his first playoff game, wasn’t phased against the defending NBA champions says something about the way he’s built and the promise that the Suns should feel.
Throughout the first few years of his career, his talent has not been denied. When watching Booker play, it’s clear that he has always been one of the most talented young players in the league. Although, he missed the playoffs through the first five seasons in the league. Because of that, it was easy to question and point to Booker as simply a stat machine and to suggest that he might not really make his team better.
Since the team’s acquisition of Paul during the offseason, though, it’s completely changed the outlook for the Suns. Phoenix took a bit of the playmaking and overall pressure off of Booker, and this team has evolved into a championship contender.
It seems that is all Booker needed for the Suns to encapsulate his true impact was a strong supporting second option – as every star needs. Booker got the support he deserves and now the Suns are a legit championship contender.
And to open the playoffs, Booker and the Suns had their way against the defending champions. Was it a perfect game from the Suns? Absolutely not. It was actually far from their best effort. Still, they made light work of the champs. And that should be a warning message to the rest of the Western Conference.
Booker isn’t backing down. We know full well that Paul won’t be backing down. And the Suns aren’t backing down. Phoenix knows the Lakers are vulnerable and appear prime to take out the hurting defending champs. Booker is here, he’s arrived, and he’s taking the NBA playoffs by storm. His first victim, possibly being the defending champs.