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The future’s looking bright for the Suns

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) makes a layup against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020.

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) makes a layup against the Utah Jazz defense during an NBA basketball game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020.

Yukai Peng, Deseret News

This article was first published as the Jazz Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Thursday.

Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and the rest of the Phoenix Suns are headed to the NBA Finals.

With a Game 6 win on Wednesday night the Suns sent the Los Angeles Clippers packing and earned their first trip to the Finals since 1993, and the way that things look right now, it’s hard not to believe that they’ll be the team walking away with the Larry O’Brien Trophy later this month.

Injuries have ravaged the NBA this postseason. With the news that Giannis Antetokounmpo will not be playing in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks, a record 10 All-Stars have missed at least one game during these playoffs. And, that doesn’t include the Hawks Trae Young who was not an All-Star this season or the large number of other non-All-Stars that have also missed time due to injury.

The Suns, who were without Paul through the first two games of the Western Conference finals after he tested positive for COVID-19, have not been without their share of injuries. Paul has also dealt with shoulder issues through these playoffs, Devin Booker’s nose was broken in Game 2 of the conference finals, and the Suns were without Cam Johnson in Game 6 due to a non-COVID-19 related illness.

Even so, the Suns’ main rotation has been able to stay on the floor and that’s more than the remaining Eastern Conference teams can say and that might be what matters the most in this year’s Finals.

Any championship tournament is usually referred to as a battle to become the “last man standing,” but this year in particular that phrase seems to ring a little more true, and the Suns have the benefit of time.

The Eastern Conference finals are still underway with Game 5 coming on Thursday night between the Bucks and Hawks, who are tied 2-2. That means that the Suns are at minimum going to have at least five days of rest before they have to compete in the Finals and those days off could end up being what gives them an edge to win a title.

New with the Jazz

This week on ‘Unsalvageable’

Check out “Unsalvageable: A Utah Jazz Podcast”, hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster). This week, they go over the Jazz’s front office shakeup, some NBA news, and then answer fan mailbag questions.

New episodes come out every Wednesday. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast and anywhere else you stream podcasts.

From the archives

This week in Jazz history

On June 27, 2013, the Utah Jazz traded to get No. 27 overall draft pick Rudy Gobert from the Denver Nuggets. After spending time in the D-League, Gobert worked his way up and has since won three Defensive Player of the Year awards and is a two-time All-Star for the Jazz.

Extra points

  • Utah Jazz mailbag: The best moments of the season (Deseret News)
  • Mock draft has Utah Jazz selecting Trey Murphy out of Virginia (The Athletic)
  • The story behind the Utah Jazz’s front-office shake-up (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Neemias Queta could be rising up NBA draft boards after excellent Combine performance (Deseret News)

Around the league

LeBron James’s Olympic career is likely over, according to Team USA’s Jerry Colangelo.

The Phoenix Suns are headed to the Finals for the first time in 28 years.

Olympic qualifying is underway and features a lot of NBA players.

Up next: NBA conference finals

July 1 | 6:30 p.m. | Game 5, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Atlanta Hawks | TNT

July 3 | 6:30 p.m. | Game 6, Milwaukee Bucks @ Atlanta Hawks | TNT

July 5 | 6:30 p.m. | *Game 7, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Atlanta Hawks | TNT

TBD | TBD | Finals Game 1, Milwaukee Bucks/Atlanta Hawks vs. Phoenix Suns | ABC

* Game if necessary