After spending two games in COVID purgatory, Suns point guard Chris Paul is ready to resume his duties in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against the Clippers. Cameron Payne performed so well in his absence. . So it doesn’t seem to be entirely disastrous. Early in that game, when Payne awkwardly stepped on a loose ball, the edge of his left sneaker was clamped by the hardwood when he fell to the floor. When I saw the weight of my left leg rush forward.
This is what we call “sprained ankle”, and the injury prevented Payne from returning to the game in the last three games of the Suns’ defeat.
This may be the biggest obstacle for the Suns to return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993.
Payne played only 13 minutes in his fifth loss on Monday night, and he had limited time to show up. The Suns were clearly affected, losing 116-102, and their series advantage was reduced to 3-2.
Payne has been one of the surprising stories of the Suns’ surge in the 2020-21 season. As a high school point guard in Memphis, he was ignored by mainstream programming. In 2015, he became a first-round draft pick at Murray State University. He was traded to the Bulls in 2017, but they were of little use to him. A year ago, before the 2019-20 season resumed, when the Suns signed him, he had already withdrawn from the league and was looking for opportunities. This season he averaged 17 minutes per game, 8.4 points, 3.6 assists and 44% of the three-point shooting percentage. In the first two games against the Clippers, he scored 15 points and 9 assists, while Paul was absent.
However, because Payne was injured with 30 seconds left in the first quarter of the third game, the Suns as a team shot 43.6% and averaged 18 free throws per game, which was lower than 46.2% and 20. Second. They scored more than 18 points and lost two of the three games. Although he did not return in the last three quarters of the third game, he has appeared in the past two games and seems to be restricted.
The Suns have a chance to end the series on their home court in Game 5 on Monday. This didn’t happen, and it’s easy to trace it back to their terrible start, which resulted in a 20-5 drop after Monday night’s opening cue.
“They played very determined,” Suns coach Monty Williams told reporters after the game. “We have to realize that we are trying to end the series against a team that has appeared before. They will hold on, at all costs. We have to have this mentality.”
However, the Suns were able to get rid of this gap, trailing by 7 points at halftime and leading by one point at 8:27 of the third quarter. As Williams’ starting lineup began to sway in front of the Clippers’ small ball lineup-Los Angeles played without injured center Ivica Zubac, with 6-foot-9 veteran Marku Morris opened the game as their biggest player-Payne’s excellent performance in the first ten games of these playoffs will be of great benefit.
Williams let him participate in Paul’s game with 4:30 left in the third quarter, and the Suns trailed 76-67. Less than two minutes later, after reducing the score to 6 points, Payne was eliminated and Booker’s task was to take charge of the offense. Two turnovers, missed long shots, missed opportunities.
Payne’s withdrawal from the game must be related to injury. After the game, Williams was not asked about the transfer, but it is hard to imagine that he would completely put the ball in Booker’s hands at that stage, even during Paul’s short break.
“We must better close the dormitory,” Paul said. “This is a problem for our entire series… We lead, maybe reduce it to one or two, and then they get a bucket, and then they keep running. So look at it, look at us Where is the need to do better and prepare for the next one.
“We know where we are going, and that is where we won last time. We know they will be excited and ready. We will be ready.”