It’s win or go home time for the Phoenix Suns, with a lot of pressure falling on the shoulders of veteran guard Chris Paul.
Paul has been good, but not great, during the Suns three-game losing streak that has them facing elimination on the road Tuesday night for Game 6. Despite battling through some injuries, the 36-year-old guard has had some signature performances in the postseason, including a 41-point barrage as his Suns closed out the Clippers in the Western Conference Finals.
Hall of Fame shooting guard Reggie Miller thinks the Suns needs one of those signature performances out of Paul in Game 6 or their titles hopes are done.
“Chris Paul hasn’t had a signature game yet. I think we’re all waiting on that. Booker has been great. But the other half of that equation is Chris Paul. He had signature moments against the Lakers, against Denver. Games I’m talking about, and versus the Clippers. There was always one game he had, where he was phenomenal,” Miller said on The Dan Patrick Show. “Game 6, it has to be that for him. If not, then this series is over.”
Miller did go on to say that Paul would get a “pass” if the Suns do end up losing the series.
“I think Chris Paul will probably get a pass because of his age and because of the hard knocks that have taken Chris Paul to even get to the NBA Finals,” Miller said.
Paul Not Worried About His Numbers
While Paul would love to put up a huge stat line in Game 6, he’s experienced enough to know that if he’s doing the little things that don’t show up in the box score and his team gets the win, it’s more valuable than anything else. The one number he wants to keep down is turnovers, which were his bugaboo in Game 4
“I sort of gauge things off wins and losses as far as me. It ain’t necessarily how many points, assists or whatnot,” Paul told reporters. “Obviously, turnovers is something I try to keep down. But just try to be aggressive. Obviously, making shots helps. But being aggressive on both ends, not just offensively but defensively too.”
The Suns are facing elimination for the first time, with their only real adversity coming in a first-round series against the defending champion Lakers.
“This is our first elimination game. So it’s for real. It’s no looking back now,” Paul said. “We got to come out, be ready to play and it’s either win or go home.”
Suns Have Let Series Slip Away Multiple Times
The Suns have slumped since going up 2-0, with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton leads the Bucks to within one win of the Bucks first title in 50 years.
The Suns had a chance to put the Bucks away early in Game 5 and were cruising early with a 37-21 first-quarter lead. However, they let the Bucks back in with a miserable second quarter where they were outscored 43-24. It was all downhill from there.
“Turnovers, fouls at certain times. Every time we sort of made a breakdown or missed an assignment, they made a shot,” Paul told reporters on Monday. “Everybody would love to play a perfect game, but it’s not that way. I think if we can cover up for each other and just have each other’s back. Then at the end of the day, as long as we go out there and play hard and compete, we can live with that.”
The Bucks are a 4.5-point home favorite against Suns on Tuesday for Game 6.