Game 6: The Sun at the Clippers
9 p.m. ET, ESPN | Suns lead 3-2
• Paul George had a historic performance (career-high 41 points, 15-20 FG, 3-6 3-point FG, 8-8 FT) in an LA Game 5 win, becoming the first player in NBA history to record 40+ points in 75%+ FG, 50%+ 3P and 100% FT in playoff games. He scored nearly half (48.8%) of those points, including 19 points from 19 drives (a very efficient drive ratio). For reference, George usually scores only 29.4% of his points in the paint with 6.9 ppg from 11.8 drives. De’Aaron Fox, who leads the league in points from drives during the regular season, only averaged 13.3 ppg from 18.4 drives and Trae Young typically scores 10.5 ppg from 20.1 drives.
• George, who has recorded 130 minutes more than any other player in this year’s playoffs, has scored at least 20 points in all 18 games he has played in this postseason. The only other players in NBA history to score at least 20 in their first 18 games from a single playoff are Michael Jordan (1992, 1997, 1998), Kobe Bryant (2008) and Kevin Durant (2012, 2018). Each of those players went on to The Finals in the same postseason.
• Clippers coach Tyronn Lue — who improved to 10-2 in elimination games with a LA Game 5 win — has been praised throughout the postseason for his game-to-game and in-game adjustments. The third quarter has been the Clippers’ best quarter in the series as LA has outscored Phoenix by a total of 30 points in the first five games after the break. The Clippers are now 10-2 in Game 3-7 in the playoffs this season, compared to 0-6 in Game 1-2.
|Statistics||1-2 . game||Games 3-7|
• The Suns got a second chance to close the tie and advance to The Finals for the first time since 1993. With that loss in Game 5, the Suns are now winning 2-1 in close-out games this postseason, with Devin Booker averaging 37.7 points at 50.7% -58.3% -90.3% shooting splits, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 43.7 minutes per game. Booker’s total of 112 points through three close-out games is the sixth most by a player through the first three close-out opportunities in a single postseason, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The only players with more points than Booker are Jordan (4x, last in 1992) and Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor (both in 1962).
• In Game 5, the Clippers got a combined 60 points from Reggie Jackson (23), Marcus Morris Sr. (22) and DeMarcus Cousins (15). Jackson has become George’s second steady goalscorer in the series without Kawhi Leonard. Morris, who has been limited to playing with a knee injury, has scored 25 points in the first four games of the series. Cousins had scored 14 points in a combined 17 minutes in the series before going for 15 points in 11 minutes in Game 5 with Ivica Zubac out. Morris was also the main defender at Deandre Ayton for the team’s highest score of 5:04 (43.7% of Ayton’s fight time) and held Ayton to four points. Ayton finished with 10 points (lowest scoring game in the series) and 11 rebounds (half of his total from Game 4). The Suns entered Game 5 with a 198-140 lead in paint (winning by 14.5 ppg average); The Clippers outperformed the Suns 58-32 in the paint game in Game 5.