Game 5: Clippers at Suns
• The composite score of this series is 403-400 in favor of the Clippers despite LA trailing 3-1 in the series. LA’s three losses have come by a combined 11 points, compared to their 14-point win in Game 3. The Suns have won all three games that featured clutch time – score within five points in the final five minutes of fourth quarter or overtime – outscoring the Clippers 26-21 in 12 minutes of clutch play. Phoenix has a clutch true shooting percentage of 60.7%, compared to LA’s 40% as the Clippers have shot 7-for-21 overall, 1-for-11 on 3-pointers and 6-for-12 on free throws.
• The Suns’ 84-80 win against the Clippers in Game 4 was the lowest scoring game of the 2020-21 NBA season (regular season or playoffs). There were only 28 times this season that a team scored fewer than 85 points in a game — the Suns are the only team to win such a game.
• Deandre Ayton continued his outstanding postseason — averaging 16.6 ppg, 11.4 rpg, shooting 70.9% from the field — with a brilliant Game 4 performance as he finished with 19 points, 22 rebounds and four blocks in 41 minutes. Since 1984, only five other players have posted those numbers in a playoff game: Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon (twice). All six players, including Ayton, were the No. 1 overall pick in their respective NBA Draft.
• The Suns are one win away from their third trip to The Finals (1976, 1993). Phoenix is 2-3 all-time in Western Conference finals close-out games (1-0 in 1976, 0-2 in 1979 and 1-1 in 1993). This season, the Suns are 2-0 in closeout games, averaging 119 points on 51.3%-45.6%-94.3% shooting splits and winning by an average of 10 points against the Lakers in the first round and the Nuggets in the conference semifinals. In those closeout games, Devin Booker has averaged 40.5 points and 11.0 rebounds, while shooting 55.3 FG, 55.5 3P and 95% FT.
• While this will be Phoenix’s third close-out game of the playoffs, it will also be LA’s third elimination game as the Clippers defeated the Mavericks in the opening round in Games 6 and 7 with their season on the line. The Clippers were led by Kawhi Leonard’s 36.6 points on 70%-50%-100% shooting in those two elimination games, but he will be unavailable on Monday due to an ankle injury. Paul George averaged 21 points to go with team highs of 9.5 rebounds and 8.0 assists in those elimination games, but shot just 36.7% from the field and 26.7% from 3-point range.