2021 NBA playoffs: The Phoenix Suns have shown how to win by mastering the margins

In a season defined by record scoring and turbocharged offenses, trench warfare broke out in Staples Center during Saturday's Game 4 of the Western Conference finals between the Phoenix Suns and LA Clippers. Two teams proficient at 3-point shooting combined to go 9-for-51 from beyond the arc (17.6%) and 34.3% from the field. With the contest tightening after the traditional third-quarter rally by the Clippers, the squads 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 (9 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN App). In what is 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.