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Chris Paul’s 41-Point Game 6 Performance Ends Two Long NBA Finals Droughts

Phoenix Suns Wester Conference Advance To Finals

Chris Paul scored 41 points as the Phoenix Suns eliminated the L.A. Clippers in Game 6 of the 2021 WCF.
Paul will be playing in his first ever NBA Finals in 16 NBA seasons.
The Suns will also be playing in the Championship Series for the first time since 1993.

The say fairy tales are just for kids but don’t tell that to Chris Paul.

Known as the point god, Paul is one of the best point guards to ever play the game and his greatness can never be questioned. However, when it comes to his NBA career, Chris Paul’s resume has been filled with injuries, heartbreaks, and disappointments.

After he was traded by the Houston Rockets to the OKC Thunder two seasons ago, people thought he was done. But Paul defied his critics by leading what was supposed to be a rebuilding Thunder team to the playoffs and he also made his first All-Star selection since 2016.

Traded to the Suns

Devin Booker and Chris Paul, together with the Suns now pic.twitter.com/kxV2rE5YLU

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 16, 2020

This past offseason, Paul was on the move again, this time to Phoenix, with the Suns hoping his veteran leadership would help the team end their 10-year playoff drought.

Phoenix didn’t just make the playoffs, they were the 2nd seed in the West and had the second-best record in the NBA. Paul not only made the All-Star team for a second straight season but he also got two first place votes in the MVP balloting where he finished 5th.

On Wednesday night, the 36-year old Chris Paul tied his playoff career-high with 41 points to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 130-103 win over the L.A. Clippers in Game 6 of the 2021 Western Conference Finals. Paul’s masterful closeout performance ended two long droughts, sending him to his first ever Finals appearance after 16 NBA seasons and the Suns’ first NBA championship series in 28 years.

1st NBA Finals at Age 36

Chris Paul makes his 1st NBA Finals at age 36, defeating his former team on their home court. 😤🔥 pic.twitter.com/PdOOwoIPwf

— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) July 1, 2021

While LeBron James needed only three seasons to play in his first NBA Finals, and Steph Curry 6 seasons to make his first finals appearance, it has taken Chris Paul 22 playoff series, 1,212 games, 37,757 minutes played, five different teams, 7 different head coaches, and 179 different teammates in 16 years to book his first NBA Finals appearance.

The 36-year old Paul took matters into his own hands, scoring 41 points, including 31 in the second half of Game 6. His 31 second half points are tied for the third-most second half points scored by a player in a closeout game of a series since the 1996-97 season. He is also the oldest player to score 40+ point in a playoff closeout game and the second oldest player ever to drop a 40+ point game in the postseason.

Paul was close to making the Finals three seasons ago. Paul helped the Houston Rockets take a 3-2 series lead over the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 Western Conference Finals but he suffered a hamstring injury in their Game 5 win and missed Games 6 and 7. The Warriors won the last two games and Paul had another heartbreak. At 33 during that time, many though that was his last chance at going to the Finals. They were wrong.

Suns’ First Finals Trip Since 1993

Chris Paul makes his 1st NBA Finals at age 36, defeating his former team on their home court. 😤🔥 pic.twitter.com/PdOOwoIPwf

— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) July 1, 2021

The Phoenix Suns had a 26-49 record before the bubble tournament in Orlando last season. Although they were not among the Top 8 seeds in the West, the Suns qualified for the bubble as they were within six games of the then 8th seeded Memphis Grizzlies. Then it happened. The Suns became the only unbeaten team in the bubble with an 8-0 record and they nearly entered the playoffs via the backdoor.

During the offseason, the Suns wanted to build on their success in Orlando and they knew that if they were going to take it to the next level in 2020-21, they would need to add veteran presence alongside their young stars. So GM James Jones got Chris Paul and Jae Crowder to help their young core of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges. It worked like magic.

Since the Chris Paul trade, the Suns have posted a 51-21 record and they are 11-3 in the current postseason. They eliminated the highly touted Los Angeles. Lakers in the first round and the L.A. Clippers in the Conference Finals, closing out both Hollywood teams at Staples Center. Now, the Suns are heading to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1993 and the best NBA betting sites have them as the odds on favorite to win the first championship in franchise history. Imagine if the Suns would go on to win. That would be a fairy tale ending indeed.