They say the close-out game is the most difficult one in the NBA Playoffs. On Monday, that proved to be true once again as the Phoenix Suns failed to eliminate the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 5 in the Western Conference Finals.
The Suns looked lethargic against the fired-up Clippers, who ran away with a convincing 1116-102 victory. After the loss, Suns coach Monty Williams easily pointed out their problem, calling their slow start “unacceptable.”
Monty Williams said the Suns’ start to the game was unacceptable. Said it’s pretty obvious the Suns can’t play with a “show-up mentality.”
— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) June 29, 2021
As Williams pointed out, the Suns can’t just expect the opposing team to roll over. The Clippers, with their back against the wall, punched the Suns in the mouth right from the get-go, scoring 36 points in the first quarter.
Booker and Chris Paul had an impressive showing, combining for 56 points and 11 assists, but Paul George and Reggie Jackson outplayed them. PG had another memorable performance with their season on the line, finishing with 41 points on an eye-popping 15-of-20 shooting from the field. Jackson, meanwhile, continued his solid postseason, compiling 23 points, including four three-pointers, five rebounds, and three assists.
Much has been said about the Clippers’ comeback after getting buried 3-1 in the previous two rounds. Clippers coach Ty Lue already said it’s also “very doable” against the Suns and so far, they’re on the right track.
After a monster double-double in Game 4, Deandre Ayton didn’t give much on Monday, finishing with only 10 points on nine shots and 11 rebounds. It isn’t preposterous to assume that the pressure of closing out the Clippers got to the young big man.
Williams has always been a good motivator, and for sure, his wake-up call would fire up his wards in Game 6.