'Punk move': Clipper's childish act mars Phoenix Suns NBA triumph

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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A 50-50 image shows different angles of Patrick Beverley shoving Chris Paul to the ground.
LA Clippers guard Patrick Beverly was thrown out of game six of the Western Conference Finals after shoving Phoenix rival Chris Paul to the ground in the fourth quarter. Pictures: ESPN/NBA

The Phoenix Suns have advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993 after defeating the LA Clippers 130-103 in game six of the Western Conference Finals.

The Suns won the series 4-2 on the back of point guard Chris Paul's sensational performance, with the veteran finishing with 41 points on 16-of-24 shooting (7-of-8 from deep), eight assists, four rebounds and three steals.

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Paul, a former Clippers star who was traded to Phoenix prior to the 2020/2021 season beginning, will play in his first NBA Finals since he entered the NBA back in 2005.

After getting burned by Paul George for 41 points in Game 5, the Suns went all out to prevent a repeat performance. 

Led by Torrey Craig's on-ball defence, the Suns held George to 21 points on 6-of-15 shooting.

Beyond a 26-point, nine-rebound performance by Marcus Morris Sr., George didn't have much help from a Clippers team still missing its top player in Kawhi Leonard and top two big men in Serge Ibaka and Ivica Zubac.

Some frustration from the Clippers was clear by the end of the game, with guard Patrick Beverly ejected after shoving Paul to the ground from behind during a timeout.

Commentator Mike Breen was incredibly unimpressed with the controversial Clipper, saying his shove on Paul was 'as unsportsmanlike as it gets'.

Fans too, condemned the shove.

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Beverly was heavily criticised for the act, but for the Suns it was no matter - for the first time in nearly 20 years, the Arizona-based NBA franchise finally earned a shot at winning a championship.

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Paul has performed well enough to re-establish his value as a franchise cornerstone at the age of 36. Devin Booker looks more and more like a superstar. 

Ayton has managed to remove some theoretical regrets over taking him instead of Luka Doncic or Trae Young in the 2018 NBA draft. The supporting cast has taken a big step forward under Monty Williams.

And yet, you really can’t look at the Suns’ path to the Finals without noticing who wasn’t there.

They played the Los Angeles Lakers while Anthony Davis dealt with a groin strain that eventually knocked him out of the series. 

They played the Denver Nuggets while the team was missing its second-most important player in Jamal Murray. 

And, of course, the team never saw two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard in this series.

Chris Paul and Devin Booker celebrate after the Phoenix Suns defeated the LA Clippers in the NBA's Western Conference Finals. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Paul and Devin Booker celebrate after the Phoenix Suns defeated the LA Clippers in the NBA's Western Conference Finals. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Injuries have been a recurring story in the NBA playoffs thanks to last year's shortened offseason, and the Suns stand as the primary beneficiary of that. 

Paul has reached the NBA Finals for the first time in his 16-year career on the same Staples Centre court where he helped bring the Clippers to respectability over six seasons that ended in 2017.

"I'm just so happy for all the people around me, and the Clippers are my family too," Paul said on the court after the game. "These fans, Billy Crystal, that's my family. This is a team I have the utmost respect for, I'll always be a Clipper.

"But this group right here, this group right here," he said, gesturing at his Suns teammates wearing NBA Finals hats.

The Suns last made NBA Finals in 1993, when they were led by Charles Barkley and lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in six games.

It could continue in the NBA Finals as well, with Antetokounmpo and Young both currently dealing with injuries.

With Yahoo Sport US/AAP

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