Devin Booker needs to have a legacy-defining bounce-back game tonight.
Booker is a great talent, and he’s a guy that has championship-level DNA. He’s shown the entire world that he’s ready for this moment, even though this is the first time he’s been in the playoffs in his six-year career.
He could possibly be the face of the league very soon. So that’s what makes his Game 3 performance against the Bucks in the Finals such an anomaly. Booker shot 3-of-14 and had only 10 points while shooting 14 percent from three-point land.
Booker has gotten cold during this playoff run before — against the Clippers, Patrick Beverley had Booker figured out for a large part of the Western Conference Finals, but Booker was able to still get his points even though he wasn’t necessarily that efficient. He ended that series averaging 25.5 points a game, even though he only shot 38 percent from the field and 28 percent from three.
In other words, he found a way to get it done.
That’s exactly what he’s going to have to do tonight to give his team a chance to gain a stranglehold in this series. Going up 3-1 on the Bucks would put the Suns in an extremely favorable position to capture their first NBA title, obviously.
Booker’s name has been mentioned in the same sentence as all-time greats, most notably, the late, great Kobe Bryant. Booker has said that Bryant is a huge inspiration for him and his game.
You can debate whether or not Booker is the next Bryant, but what you can’t debate is the fact that all-time greats respond to adversity. And for Booker, his back is against the wall now, and he needs to prove that he deserves to be in such discussions this early in his career.
Game 4 and the rest of this NBA Finals series will tell us a lot about Booker and where his place in the NBA should be for the moment and where it’s potentially going.