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NBA : Phoenix, the renaissance

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Eleven years later, Phoenix is back in the playoffs. The Suns had not been to the finals since 2010 and the end of the Steve Nash era.

It seemed like a long time ago when the Suns, led by Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire and Grant Hill finished third in the Western Conference, only eliminated in the conference finals by Kobe Bryant’s Lakers. Everything changed in the summer of 2010 when Stoudemire, then a free agent, joined the Knicks, leading two years later to the transfer of the team’s superstar, Steve Nash. The Canadian point guard moved to the Los Angeles Lakers, marking a turning point in the franchise’s history and heralding the promise of a rebuild.

After a series of bad draft picks and injuries to their major players, first and foremost Eric Bledsoe, the Suns could not find a way back to the playoffs and had to wait until 2015 to find a leader. Devin Booker, drafted 13th in 2015, will be that one. The rookie is just 18 years old but already has a personality ready for the very high level.

Surrounded by Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight, Booker is a quick learner and is quickly establishing himself as a starter. He proves moreover that he can become a big scorer by scoring 70 points against the Celtics on March 24, 2017, a first in the NBA since the 81 points of Kobe Bryant in 2006.

In the Orlando bubble, the Suns create a sensation
However, the losses follow one another for Phoenix, to the point of landing the 1st pick in the 2018 draft. In need of a pivot, the Suns decide to bet on DeAndre Ayton and Mikal Bridges to play the locomotives alongside Booker. Then intervene the pandemic and the health bubble put in place by the NBA in the summer of 2020.

Phoenix, with Booker as a master of the game, the experienced Bridges and Ayton, the trigger Oubre, very good at 3 points, and Ricky Rubio at the lead, landed without complex in the bubble. In Florida, they become the only undefeated team, with 8 wins in as many games played.

The Suns even create the buzz, with this memorable three-pointer of Booker at the last second during the game against the Clippers. Since the Steve Nash era, the franchise had not known such a series.

And Paul came along…
Relaunched on solid foundations, the Suns recruited intelligently during the off-season with the reinforcement of Jae Crowder, a transfer from Miami, but especially with the arrival of Chris Paul. The All Star point guard propelled Phoenix into another dimension and made the Suns a real winning machine (44 wins in 62 games, for more than 70% of victories, a first since 2007.)

Today solidly installed in second place and officially qualified since Wednesday and this success against the Clippers marked by the new XXL performance of « CP3 » for the play-offs. The runner-up of the Jazz in the West, carried by Devin Booker and Chris Paul, will now rub shoulders with the experienced teams of the conference, and thus hope to play the NBA finals for the first time since 1993 (defeat against the Chicago Bulls of Michael Jordan). Paul, soon 36 years old, has never played in one.

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