How ‘old souls’ and margin mastery have the Suns one win away from the NBA Finals

  • NBA writer for ESPN.com since 2008
  • Former contributor and editor at NPR

In a season defined by record scoring and turbocharged offenses, trench warfare broke out in Staples Center in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals between the Phoenix Suns and LA Clippers. Two proficient 3-point shooting teams combined to shoot 9-for-51 from beyond the arc (17.6%) and 34.3% from the field. With the game tightening after the traditional third quarter rally by the Clippers, the teams shot a collective 2-for-21 from the field to begin the fourth quarter. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Clippers attempted 10 go-ahead field goals in the fourth quarter — and missed all 10.

In the end, the Suns outscored the Clippers 15-14 in the final frame, enough to eke out an 84-80 win and a 3-1 series lead as the conference finals return to Phoenix for Monday night’s Game 5 (Monday, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN App). In what’s one of the most profound franchise turnarounds in recent NBA history, a team that hadn’t qualified for the playoffs in more than a decade is now only one game away from the NBA Finals.

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