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Tune-In Tidbits: Western Conference finals, Game 3

Get ready for Game 3 of the Western Conference finals tonight on ESPN with five key stats to know about the matchup.

Brian Martin, for NBA.com

Deandre Ayton has scored 44 points on 22-29 (75.9%) shooting through the first two games, including 21-24 (87.5%) in the paint.

Game 3: Suns at Clippers
9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN | Suns lead 2-0

• The Suns not only take a 2-0 series lead into Game 3, they are also expected to have Chris Paul back in the lineup after the point guard missed Games 1 and 2 due to health and safety protocols. Paul has averaged 15.7 points and 8.7 assists in 31.2 minutes per game during the postseason and has the best assist/turnover ratio (6.21) of any player still in the playoffs. The Suns have been 8.4 points per 100 possessions better with Paul on the court (13.1 net rating in 312 minutes) than when he’s off court (4.7 net rating in 264 minutes); only Jae Crowder (14.9) has a higher differential on the Suns.

• For the third straight series, the Clippers have fallen behind 0-2 (first round vs. Dallas; conference semifinals vs. Utah). They are already the first team to overcome two 0-2 deficits in a single postseason and now will try a third time. The turnaround in the first two series came in Game 3 as the Clippers averaged 125 points on 57%-48%-88% shooting splits as a team. However, their leading scorer in both games was Kawhi Leonard (36 vs. DAL, 34 vs. UTA), who has been ruled out for Game 3 against Phoenix. Paul George averaged 30 points on 55%-50%-86% shooting splits with 5.0 rebounds and 4.5 steals in 40 minutes per game in those Game 3s.

• The Suns enter Game 3 riding a franchise-record nine-game playoff win streak. If they can win Game 3 and extend the run to 10 games, they would become only the 10th teams since 1984 to have 10 consecutive playoff wins. The last team with a double-digit playoff win streak was the 2017 Warriors, who won 15 in a row on their way to the championship. During Phoenix’s streak, which began on May 30, the Suns have won games by an average of 13.4 points and have been led by Devin Booker’s 28.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game.

• Through two games in the series, the Suns have outscored the Clippers in the paint by a total of 50 points. In Game 1, Phoenix had a 20-point advantage inside (54-34) and in Game 2, they doubled up the Clippers (60-30). Deandre Ayton has 42 points in the paint (on 21-24 shooting) by himself, compared to 54 points from the Clippers as a team, including the game-winning dunk in Game 2. Cameron Payne, who scored a career-best 29 points in Game 2 and has 40 total points in the series, has scored 24 points in the paint.

• After his 40-point triple-double in Game 1, Devin Booker finished with 20 points on 5-16 shooting in Game 2. Patrick Beverley defended Booker for a team-high 6:55 and held Booker to six points (30% of total) on 2-7 shooting in 49.8% of Booker’s offensive matchup time. Paul George led the Clippers with 26 points in Game 2, but only four of those points (15.4%) came in the 4:56 (34.8%) of matchup time against Mikal Bridges. In 5:25 of combined matchup time against Jae Crowder and Devin Booker, George scored 15 points on 5-8 FG, 1-2 3P and 4-6 FT.

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