Star point guard Chris Paul helped seal the Phoenix Suns‘ spot in the 2021 NBA Finals after a dominant performance in the Game 6 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Paul became the difference-maker that secured his first career trip to the NBA Finals. His stellar performance also put him in the NBA playoff record books over former Chicago Bulls’ great Michael Jordan.
Chris Paul leads the Suns to the NBA Finals
With an opportunity to secure his first NBA Finals berth, Paul showed out with one of his best career playoff performances.
The 36-year-old guided the Suns throughout the game despite the Clippers’ strong push to force an all-or-nothing Game 7. Paul led the charge in the second half with 31 of his game-high and career-playoff best 41 points with zero turnovers.
The impressive outing put him alongside Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to record at least 40 points with no turnovers in a conference finals game since turnovers became an official statistic, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Paul dominated the contest behind his scoring as he knocked down 7-of-8 attempts from beyond the arc while hitting 16-of-24 overall shots.
The Suns also had a solid performance from big man Deandre Ayton, who poured in 16 points, 17 rebounds, and two blocks. Meanwhile, Devin Booker notched 22 points, and Jae Crowder tallied 19 points behind five made 3-pointers. The series close-out win lifts Phoenix to the NBA Finals for the first time in 28 years with a chance to secure the franchise’s first championship in its 53 years of existence.
Paul’s dominant performance in Game 6 also put him in the NBA record books over Jordan.
Chris Paul’s first NBA Finals trip comes after topping Michael Jordan for a ridiculous NBA record
Paul’s brilliant playoff performance marked not only the Suns‘ first trip to the NBA finals in nearly three decades but also his first go-around on that stage in his 16th campaign.
The star guard stepped up by providing the game-changing outing. According to ESPN’s Stats & Info, his 41 points in Game 6 against the Clippers, coupled with his 37-point performance in the series-clinching win over the Denver Nuggets, made him the oldest player to post at least 35 points in consecutive close-out playoff games.
It’s a feat that pushes him ahead of Jordan in the record books as he accomplished that previous mark at age 33 during the 1996 playoffs. Meanwhile, Paul also topped the former Chicago Bulls great as the oldest player to score 40-plus points in a postseason series-clinching win.
Paul channeled the most pivotal performance in his NBA career that the Suns needed to reach the NBA Finals. Despite missing the first two games of the Western Conference Finals due to testing positive for COVID-19, he still became the difference-maker in the series.
Beyond that, it’s another legacy-altering moment that will add to his legacy as an all-time great player.
A career-defining moment lies ahead
In Paul’s 16th season, he holds the golden opportunity to finally earn the NBA championship that has eluded him throughout his career.
Paul has already established himself as one of the game’s greatest point guards, but an NBA title remains missing from his resume. He has been remarkable in reshaping the Suns behind his play and leadership, transforming the franchise into a legitimate championship contender.
It only took Paul until his 1,214th career game to make his first NBA Finals appearance. However, it’s a moment he’s ready to guide the Suns forward to take on either the Milwaukee Bucks or Atlanta Hawks.
“Sixteen years of this,” Paul said via CBS Sports. “Sixteen years of surgeries, hard work, losses, bad losses, but we’re gonna enjoy tonight. We’re gonna enjoy it.”
Ultimately, Paul sits on the doorstep of adding the biggest the crowning achievement in his NBA career.
Contract courtesy of Spotrac.