Devin Booker delivered the vintage performance Phoenix had to have in Game 3

Devin Booker is gaining popularity, and Nike has started selling a Booker-themed version of its Zoom GT Cut 2. But he still prefers to wear his vintage Kobes for Phoenix Suns games. Booker often likes to immerse himself in the past and speaks about his own recent history frequently, though not always with fondness. He spent most of the first four years of his pro career in a morass, cycling through coaches and averaging a measly 22 wins a season.

Booker has had three transcendent performances in the past two weeks. He had 45 points in a pivotal Game 3 road win against the LA Clippers that gave the Suns leverage. He shot 18-of-29 in that game. Then he ripped off 25 points in a whirlwind third quarter in that series’ closeout Game 5, part of a 47-point masterpiece that matched the playoff career-high he tied again on Friday. He made 19-of-27 shots that night. Throughout these moments of celebration, however, Booker often floats backward and still talks about the morass in his early years but doesn’t want to take any chance of doing something special for granted.

Booker is an active playmaker on defense and carries the Suns with Kevin Durant in this series. Booker also takes the top defensive responsibility, whether it’s Kawhi Leonard, Norman Powell or Russell Westbrook. The coach says that sometimes, when he’s at the point, Booker will call out a play before receiving any instructions. And when the coach makes the call a second later or simultaneously, they are the same, especially for out-of-bounds plays. True to his character, Booker is modest and waves off the concept of taking a leap in recent times. Regardless, his teammates are witnessing his evolution, and he receives praise from them.

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