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ESPN’s Marks on NBA Finals: ‘Why not Phoenix?’

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul congratulates teammates during a timeout in the second half of Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets, Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

ESPN insider Bobby Marks picked the Phoenix Suns from the start as his favorite to get to the NBA Championship Finals, and now that they’ve won seven consecutive playoff games, he’s making it known that this team means business.

“I’ve said all along, I love Phoenix’s starting five,” Marks told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Monday.

“And then when you’ve got [Dario] Saric playing better, Cam Payne, your bench has been kind of a foundation piece and then you’ve got a starting five out there, why not Phoenix?”

Marks said one of the biggest pluses for the Suns has been their ability to close out series on the road.

It can be a challenge when the opposing team is comfortable on their home court with their fans cheering them on, yet the Suns have overcome those challenges with ease.

“What Devin’s been able to do, probably two of his better games have been in closeouts and certainly with Chris [Paul]. When you have a backcourt as good as these guys are right now that carries you a long way.”

In each of the Suns’ series clinching wins, Booker has played his most minutes of each series and scored his most points of the series (47 against the Lakers, 34 against the Nuggets).

But it’s not just Booker making waves in the wins, as Marks noted.

“You’ve got to watch this team the whole year and know that Phoenix is one of the better defensive teams,” he said. “Of course the thing that concerned me was Chris’ health, but as he showed, it feels like he’s only getting better.

“Then when you add in Booker and [Deandre] Ayton and [Mikal] Bridges, how they’ve played, I think people should be warming up to them and if not, they’re going to go 0-for-3 in the playoffs picking against Phoenix.”

As Phoenix waits to see who they’ll take on in the Western Conference Finals, the rest they get from sweeping Denver will only benefit them against what will likely be a tired Utah Jazz or Los Angeles Clippers team.

“The more rest, the better here. I don’t think you’ll be in a position where you’re going to be rusty,” Marks said.

All in all, Marks said the Suns should be proud of how far they’ve come for a team that hadn’t seen a playoff game in a decade.

“At the end of the day, when we look back on it, we’re not going to say ‘You know what, AD [Anthony Davis] got hurt or [Jamal] Murray didn’t play.’ It’s that this team had a great year, whether it be getting to the NBA finals, winning it all, or losing in the conference finals.”

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