The Phoenix Suns are officially in hot water in their first playoff series in over a decade, and it’s starting to show in the behavior of their star backcourt tandem. Devin Booker was ejected late in Game 3 for a two-handed shove on Dennis Schroeder as the latter was in the air trying to make a play driving to the basket, while Chris Paul has been hampered by what has been reported as a shoulder contusion which he seemed to have sustained after a collision with teammate Cam Johnson in the opening game.
Frustrations being shown in-game are more than commonplace in the NBA Playoffs, but in the postgame presser, CP3 made sure to let the media know that he had not moved on from the thing that seemed to frustrate him the most.
“We need to try and limit their free throws… If I was a betting man, eleven games in a row, eleven games in a row, we’ll see what happens… eleven in a row is tough”
Chris Paul, Game 3 Postgame Interview
What Paul is referring to is the fact he lost 11 playoff games officiated by Scott Foster. In case you don't remember, Paul's saga with Foster started in his Clipper days. It became public when Harden and Paul called him out as Rockets players and continued when CP3 was with Oklahoma City.
Paul is widely known as one of the greatest leaders the game has ever seen, but if you go down the depth chart of NBA memes, you will also find that he is labeled as one of the pettiest. That being said, Paul has had a postseason history that would leave any competitor frustrated as he has missed critical games due to injury and have teams not live up to their full potential. This season has been particularly frustrating for Paul as he has led arguably the biggest franchise turnaround in NBA history as the final piece of the puzzle that took the Suns from rebuilding to contending.
Phoenix was neck and neck with Utah for the best record in the NBA this season, leading the team to some remarkable regular season play. The reward for his efforts came in the form of a first-round matchup against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers and an unfortunate injury sustained in the first game of the series. The Suns did go on to win Game 1, but that now seems like a distant memory as the Lakers took Games 2 and 3 and seem to be on track to peak at the right time. At this point, it seems rather odd for Chris to turn to the officiating in search of answers, given that they are only down 2-1 and ended both their losses with furious runs that show much promise in their ability to match up with LeBron and company.
It seems right now as if it is a foregone conclusion amongst fans and the media that the series score will be 3-1 after Sunday’s game in LA. Perhaps this is Paul’s way of motivating his team to play with more of a chip on their shoulder for 48 minutes, not allowing the Lakers to go on these big runs that have been creating separation in the past two outings. For the Suns, there is nothing more important than lengthening the series at this point, as this gives them a bigger chance at getting CP3 back at a hundred percent.
Right now, Paul needs the other guys to pull through and give him the chance to come back and close out the series, but it is safe to say that criticizing the officiating is certainly not going to get that done. However, that is either said than done. Also, as Paul’s playoff fortunes have indicated in the past, the Suns stretching out the series does give them a chance to advance but also allows LeBron James and Anthony Davis to potentially get healthier. As it always is for Chris Paul, Scott Foster or not, it seems like another case of bad playoff luck.