Monday High 5: “Suns in 4”

Matthew JohnsonJune 14, 2021
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Screen grab from Twitter
Screen grab from Twitter

So many feelings, so many takes and so many years of disappointment and bad basketball in Phoenix seem to have been wiped out by this remarkable postseason run by the Suns. Chris Paul, Devin Booker and crew knocked out the Denver Nuggets in a four-game sweep and we have a lot to say about it. Let’s dive into it with our five biggest takeaways from the weekend in sports. 

Chris Paul makes a mockery of the NBA MVP results. 

Denver big man Nikola Jokic was named NBA MVP before game two of the Suns-Nuggets Western Conference Semifinals. It was a runaway vote for Jokic and well-deserved. Suns point guard Chris Paul finished fifth in the vote, and shockingly was left off the ballot by 49 of the 100 voters. Paul responded in kind by taking over: 17 points, 15 rebounds and zero turnovers in Game 2; then 27 points in Game 3; and finally 37 points in Game 4 to complete the sweep of the Nuggets and the league MVP. It was just the fifth time in NBA history an MVP has been swept in the playoffs. 

Big TakeawayThe 49 media members who left Chris Paul off the MVP ballot should feel really stupid right about now. There’s a reason why the Suns have gone from a perennial last-place team to perhaps the hottest team on the planet right now. There’s a reason for the Suns winning seven straight playoff games (five of the last seven have been blowout wins). There’s a reason why the Suns are in their first Western Conference Finals in 11 years. The reason is Chris Paul, our MVP. 

Devin Booker knows how to close it out. 

Over the first six years of his career, Devin Booker heard the same thing over and over: He’s good but he’s not playing in any meaningful games. Now that he’s got two playoff series under his belt, we are seeing how special Booker is in those meaningful games. Booker’s 34 points and 11 rebounds in the Game 4 win over Denver adds to his short but impressive legacy, drawing a statistical comparison to the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan. 

Big Takeaway: Both of the Suns closeout wins (L.A. and Denver) this postseason have come on the road and Booker has been the superstar many believed he would be. Putting up MJ-esque stats in the playoffs can’t help but make us think this could finally be the year for our Phoenix Suns. 

Suns fans are having a moment.  

As great of a run that the team is having, the fans may be on a better streak. Whether it’s the huge crowd support the fan base showed on the road in Denver, or the reception they gave the team returning to Sky Harbor Airport overnight, or the “Suns in 4” fan who won a fight against two Nuggets fans in the arena in Denver, or the dancing kid who went viral for ripping off his shirt on the jumbotron, or the drinking crowd that makes #chugginwiththefellas trend every other night – Planet Orange is living a dream right now.  

Big Takeaway: We didn’t even mention the celebrity sightings courtside in Phoenix: Guy Fieri, Kyler Murray, J.J. Watt, Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Phelps. The Suns are the hottest team in the league, but their fans are burning even hotter right now.  

D-backs living a total nightmare this season. 

The Arizona Diamondbacks can’t catch a break on or off the field this season. In the midst of one of the worst stretches of baseball in franchise history, the team announced on Friday General Manager Mike Hazen is taking a leave of absence. (Hazen’s wife has been battling brain cancer.) The team followed by getting swept at home by the L.A. Angels, leaving us to wonder if this is the lowest point in franchise history. Nick Piecoro from the Arizona Republic summed up the gawdy number of losses starting to pile up. 

Big Takeaway: There’s no hope in sight for this team. The D-backs head to San Francisco to start a series against the first place Giants and then come back home to face the L.A. Dodgers. Wins will be very tough to come by until ace starter Zac Gallen returns from injury, perhaps at the end of June. 

Proposed college football playoff format is perfect. 

There’s not a lot that college football gets right when it comes to its playoff format. The same four or five teams (Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, LSU) seem to be only schools in the playoff year after year, so the need to expand to 12 teams has never been greater. Later this week, the College Football Playoff management committee will meet to consider adopting a proposal that would expand the postseason tournament from four to 12 teams. There are no guarantees for conference champions and there’s automatic bids. It would take the six highest ranked conference champs and six other teams selected by the committee. Here’s how the tournament would have looked the past few seasons if it had been adopted earlier. 

Big TakeawayThis is the solution college football has sorely needed to fix a major problem with its sport. It’s too top heavy and we’re watching the same teams year after year in the playoff. It’s become too predictable and unwatchable once the regular season ends. The best part of the proposal is home games for the higher seed in the first round. That’s an idea every college football fan should get behind.