After 16 seasons and 1,211 NBA games....Chris Paul needs just one more win to get to his first-ever NBA Finals.
After helping the Phoenix Suns take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the LA Clippers, the veteran point guard is as close to the NBA Finals as he's ever been in his career.
TAKEAWAYS: Suns outlast Clippers in grind-out Game 4
"I don't wanna talk about 3-1," Paul said in his postgame on-court interview. "I don't have a good experience with that."
Paul was on the wrong end of a 3-1 series lead in the second round of the 2015 playoffs, which saw the Houston Rockets rally to knock Paul's Clippers out, despite them holding a 19-point lead in the second half of Game 6.
He knows that it's not over till it's over.
Now taking on the Clippers alongside his young Phoenix Suns squad, his fresh-faced teammates might be experiencing this stage for the first time, but Paul's previous experience and playoff heartbreak have become a driving factor in their success.
"I've been a fan of his for a long time and I've learned so much from him this year," Devin Booker said following their 84-80 Game 4 win.
"Just understanding how bad he wants this and how much time he's put into it...16 years, that's a long time and when we made the Western Conference Finals, he was like 'I've only been here one time', so we know how bad he wants it, same with coach Monty [Williams], I get that same feeling from him.
"Me, Deandre [Ayton] and Mikal [Bridges], this is our first time in here...it's a little spoiled, but it came with a lot of work."
Our slo-mo #PhantomCam highlights just how in command @CP3 is as he handles into his go-to pull-up.- NBA (@NBA) June 27, 2021
Game 5 - Monday, 9 PM ET, ESPN pic.twitter.com/Ai4eYDC9we
Booker, Bridges and Ayton have been instrumental in the Suns' success this season, with Ayton, in particular, taking his game to another level in the postseason.
The 22-year-old was the best player on the floor in Game 4, recording 19 points, 22 rebounds and four blocks, crediting Paul's leadership for his accelerated growth.
MORE: Ayton has remade himself on the biggest stage
"I love CP man," Ayton said. "That's really the only teammate that's really pushed me like big bro type push, knowing what I got that I never knew I had. He's the best thing that's happened to my career."
"I know how it is as an older player and being in the league you have an opportunity like this you cant take it for granted and he let us know, he let us know and we know the task at hand."
The Suns now have an opportunity to close things out their home floor, where they won the first two games of the series, with Game 5 on Monday, Jun. 28 at 9:00 p.m. ET.
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