Wow. Freaking wow.
Following that ass-slaughtering Luka Dončić and the Mavs unleashed on the Suns in Game 7 Sunday, “wow” was the only word that came to mind. Oh, that and the word “embarrassing.” Trailing by 30 points at home in a game where you barely muster up 27 points in 24 minutes is downright shameful. In this game, Phoenix found themselves down by 46 and ultimately lost 123-90. The first question that comes to mind is, where does Phoenix go after this debacle?
I’ve got to start with Christopher Emmanuel Paul first and yet another postseason flameout by the “point-god.” There was nothing god-like about his performance Sunday night in Phoenix. Paul and his wingman, Devin Booker, combined to shoot 0 for 11 from the field in the first half. From game three in this series, Paul looked like a player who hit a cement wall and had no interest in going any further. This was the fifth time in Paul’s career that his team held a 2-0 lead and lost the series.
Paul turned 37 on May 6 and played great in Game 2 that day in a Suns win, and CP3 had his highest scoring output of the series with 28 points. Paul only scored another 47 points over the last five games of the series, including 10 in the deciding game. After the game, a report came out that Paul had suffered a quad injury earlier in the series. I’m not sure if that’s the reason for Paul’s struggles, but something was going on. After game two, Paul just continued to play less aggressively each game.
Devin Booker isn’t without blame either, as he’s supposed to be the team’s offensive assassin, and he was held to 3 of 14 from the field and missed all four of his three-point attempts. We’re talking about a player in Booker that finished fourth in MVP voting, one slot ahead of Luka, who had his way with the Suns all series. Now, after coming up way short in the playoffs, Booker will likely receive a hefty contract extension worth somewhere around $210 million.
Of course, Booker’s potential deal will cut into the extension DeAndre Ayton has been looking for since last summer. Talks on a new deal for Ayton went through last summer right into October and the deadline as the regular season began. Ayton still doesn’t have a new contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer. There’s a good possibility Ayton is no longer a Sun come next season.
This summer, aside from potentially losing Ayton over this contract dispute, JaVale McGee and Bismack Biyombo are both unrestricted free agents. Phoenix could lose most of their size in the frontcourt in one offseason. Not only would they lose size, but also the chemistry and continuity this team has built over the last couple of years could suffer. However, in Game Seven, Ayton didn’t do much to help his cause, scoring five points on five shots.
If the Suns think this series was tough, the West isn’t going to get even easier next year. Some people believe Dončić is already too cocky. He’s in the conference finals after nearly nobody picked them to get this far. With newfound confidence and swagger, Luke and the Mavs will be hell to deal with next season. The Clippers should be back at full strength with Kawhi Leonard returning.
Don’t forget about the Nuggets getting Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. back. Memphis will be back again with another year of experience, which can also be said for Minnesota. And the Warriors are now firmly back in the mix, as we’ve seen this season. The Mavericks may have slammed the Suns’ window of opportunity shut with that 33-point trouncing.
This Phoenix run at a title was never set up to be a long one. It can’t be when you bring in a player in Paul, who was already 35 years of age. Their surprise run to the Finals last year was great, and they got close, then followed that up by posting the best record in the league by nearly 10 games.
This wasn’t supposed to be how the season ended for the Suns. It was supposed to be Phoenix vs. Golden State in the WCF. CP3 vs. Steph Curry one more time. Instead, the Suns stumble into the offseason with far more questions than they have answers for at the moment.