Suns’ margin for error in NBA Finals has shrunk smaller than Ant-Man

Jul 14, 2021, 10:56 PM | Updated: Jul 15, 2021, 10:28 am
Jae Crowder #99 of the Phoenix Suns reacts against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half in Ga...
Jae Crowder #99 of the Phoenix Suns reacts against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half in Game Four of the NBA Finals at Fiserv Forum on July 14, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

I have to but I don’t want to. I know what will happen the minute I hit play.

The frustration. The anger. Those angsty feelings of doubt creeping in. The fear of familiarity and the dread of the mere possibility that this team is going to break my heart again.

But I have to re-watch the last five minutes of that game. I have to watch it again so I can remind myself just how it all happened. My notes are pretty jumbled on the matter.

I mean, technically I don’t have to. I can do my job without it. But it all happened so fast. Isn’t that the first thing you say to the police officer after you’ve been involved in a car wreck?

“It all happened so fast.”

The Suns got T-Boned tonight at the intersection of Destiny Street and History Avenue. The Milwaukee Bucks smashed right into them. Or Chris Paul nodded off behind the wheel. Either way, there are car parts everywhere, giant flares in the road and all we have left to say is… “it all happened so fast.”

So I’ll rewatch it. Go through my notes again. But I know what I’m going to see.

I’ll wonder if Devin Booker should have been re-inserted into the game sooner than he was. I’ll see a couple of dumb fouls he never should have committed in the first place. I’ll balance that with just how phenomenal he was throughout. And while reflecting on that, I’ll count the number of times Booker should have fouled out of the game once he did come back. No one can ever argue that Booker is not a superstar because boy did he get the star treatment with a few of those non-calls.

I’ll marvel at Giannis Antetokounmpo’s block of the lob to Deandre Ayton. I’m a Suns fan through and through but I can appreciate a masterpiece when I see one and that baby belongs in a museum surrounded by velvet ropes. It was the play that — if the Suns don’t win this series, and more on that in a moment — we will see in our nightmares again. And again. And again.

Mostly I’ll fret about Chris Paul. So sloppy with the ball all night long. Fifteen turnovers in his last three games.

Is he hurt? Is he worn down? Or the real whammy; is the moment (gulp) too big for him? This narrative that has plagued him throughout his career was just jolted back into the consciousness of every NBA fan in the world.

If Paul is even half of the player he’s been this season, the Suns could have been one win away from their first ever title. Instead, every time the ball was in his hands it was an exercise of faith. Faith that he’ll make the right decision. That he’ll make the big shot. That he’ll find the right guy. At times he did. Late in the game, he most certainly did not. CP3 just picked up a little extra baggage for the ride home.

Now this series officially becomes the stuff of legend. A best-of-three with two of the three in downtown Phoenix. So let’s be clear; the advantage still lies with the Suns. The Bucks will have to win here either on Saturday or next Thursday and I’m going to assume right now the Suns come out and play with the kind of energy reserved for large power plants or Marvel superheroes.

But the margin for error has shrunk smaller than Ant-Man and the Bucks have to be feeling themselves right now. And a 2-0 grip over the NBA Finals has morphed into a fan base gripping over whether their team is doomed to climb so far so fast only to fall right before the top.

I’ve put it off long enough. Time to hit “play.”


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