Phoenix Suns: Chris Paul can’t afford more failure in the NBA Playoffs

Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports) /

The playoffs have begun and the new-look Phoenix Suns are ready to make a championship push. The Suns made one of the biggest in-season deals in recent memory after acquiring NBA all-star Kevin Durant in a three-team deal with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks.

They gave up Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Jae Crowder, and a boatload of draft picks. The Suns are all in on Durant and are seeking to win their first championship in franchise history. Kevin Durant and Devin Booker are two of the best scorers in the league. However it is the point god, Chris Paul who is the most important player for their championship hopes.

Dynamic Duo

Paul is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the best point guards to ever play the game. Although his best days may be behind him, he can get you double digits assists on any given night and is still one of the best playmakers in the league.

This Suns team is unlike anything Paul has ever had, Durant and Booker don’t need Paul to set them up for open looks because they are so good at creating for themselves. Durant finished the season Averaging 29.1 points per game, shooting 56 percent from the field, 40 Percent from three, and 92 percent from the foul line, and posting the first 55-40-90 Split in the history of the NBA.

Booker flirted with the 50-40-90 club averaging 27.1 points per game, shooting 49 percent from the field, 35 percent from three, and 85 percent from the foul line. They are both one on one nightmares and are two of the most dominant scorers in the league, which will gain plenty of attention from postseason defensive schemes.

Change in focus

Paul needs to alter his mentality and look to score, especially when it comes to shooting the three. A high volume of double teams is expected for both Durant and Booker in the post, with defenses rotating heavily to the lone star on the perimeter. This should give Paul a lot of great catch-and-shoot opportunities beyond the arc that he has to hit consistently.

Paul is more than capable as he hit a career-high seven threes in their 119 to 115 victory over the number one-seeded Denver Nuggets a few weeks ago. Below are the looks defensives have no choice, but to give him. Paul was ready and he pops his feet and drains them.

In addition to keeping the defense honest with his shot,  Paul has to keep Ayton engaged offensively. Whether it’s hit ahead for early duck-ins or finding him in pick-and-roll actions, Paul must ensure Ayton stays aggressive and doesn’t disappear on the court.

This year Paul doesn’t have as much spotlight as all eyes will be on Durant, but Durant’s presence has made the game simple for him. Paul’s ability to hit open shots and spoon-feed Ayton will dictate how far the Suns go in the postseason.

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Paul is a living legend hunting for the chance to finally hoist up the Larry O’Brien in June, and this is his best chance yet.