NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Paul never stopped believing he would reach NBA Finals

By Sports Desk July 01, 2021

Chris Paul says he never stopped believing he would make the NBA Finals after finally achieving the feat with the Phoenix Suns in his 13th playoffs campaign.

The Suns will play for the NBA title after sealing a 4-2 Western Conference Finals series win over the Los Angeles Clippers with a 130-103 road victory on Wednesday.

Paul scored a playoffs career-high 41 points for the Suns, including a run of 14 of his side's 16 points after the Clippers closed within seven late in the third quarter.

The 36-year-old point guard will now realise his long-held dream of playing in the NBA Finals after previously narrowly missing out with the Clippers and the Houston Rockets, the latter when his side were 3-2 up in the Conference finals and he went down injured.

"No, I ain't built like that," Paul said when asked at the post-game news conference if he ever thought making the NBA Finals would not happen for him.

"It's just, 'get to work'. In Game 3, I found out I'd tore some ligaments in my hand and I thought 'here we go'... I've got an unbelievable team around me."

Paul missed the first two games of the Clippers series after entering into the league's health and safety protocol having tested positive to COVID-19.

The veteran also battled a shoulder complaint in the Suns' first-round playoffs series against the Los Angeles Lakers and he revealed he had undergone an MRI on his wrist on Tuesday ahead of Game 6.

"It's been a lot," he said. "I was getting an MRI yesterday on my wrist. I've had all these surgeries over the years.

"I remember in Houston, we were up 3-2 and we had the T-shirt and hat and I never got a chance to get it. I'll never forget that."

He added: "I've been on the other end of so many losses. I know what that feels like."

Paul shot seven-from-eight three-pointers among his 41 points, while he also had four rebounds, eight assists and three steals in a memorable playoffs performance.

Paul's 31 second-half points are a career-high, while it was tied for third-most second-half points in a series-clinching win since 1996-97 behind Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis.  

He also moved up to 11th on the all-time NBA playoffs assists list but preferred to focus on his team.

"I was just happy and proud of our team," he said. "Mont [Suns coach Monty Williams], not winning coach of the year, but we know who he is.

"I experienced COVID, just a week ago. I was at home and couldn’t be there with my teammates. That's what you call next man up. They won two games in the series without me. It just shows you how crazy it is.

"In the first series, I got this nerve thing. Won the second series and end up with the COVID. It's been a lot. I want it, not just for myself, but for everyone in that locker room."

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