DAN BICKLEY

A warning to Suns fans: Are you ready for a title-or-bust playoff run?

Apr 14, 2023, 1:04 PM

Phoenix Suns fans...

Phoenix Suns fans shout during the second half of Game 5 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Phoenix. The Suns won 110-80. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

In the land of heartache and sunburn, a heavy question hangs over the Valley: Are we ready, Arizona?

Are we ready for another manic bout of playoff basketball?

Are we ready for another Game 7 at home, if necessary?

Are we ready to rage against the officials and the NBA conspiracies, scouring the internet every morning for referee assignments?

Are we ready for another ride on the rollercoaster? When the last one was so jarring and vomitous?

They say it’s better to have loved and lost than not loved at all. The Suns might be an exception, and we have 55 years of scar tissue to prove it.

Still, I love their chances in the current. Their draw is favorable. The Clippers are missing one of their star players, and we’re in Denver’s head. A series against Golden State would be roundball Armageddon and a high-stakes bonanza for everyone involved, especially with the highly entertaining Draymond Green pitting wits against his future employers in Phoenix (prediction alert).

Don’t pay attention to the numbers. Statistics fib and fudge. Kevin Durant has lost six consecutive playoff games.

In one of those losses, his foot landed on the three-point line after he launched a heroically clutch shot. Had he landed behind that line, his Nets would’ve met Devin Booker’s Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals. And none of this would be happening.

Also, don’t nod your head in agreement when someone tells you this is a freebie postseason, a trial balloon before the real Durant era begins in Phoenix.

There is tremendous pressure to win now.

For Al McCoy, who will be broadcasting the last basketball games of his Hall of Fame career. For Chris Paul, who was the NBA’s real MVP two seasons ago; who triggered so much of the culture change on display in Phoenix; and who might be a salary-cap casualty in the offseason if the current team can’t bring home a parade.

There is pressure to win a championship as soon as possible, to forever mute the lament of trading Mikal Bridges. Before the pain becomes unbearable.

Brace yourselves, Arizona. We are back on the ride. Without a safety net or someone to check our lap belts.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta on weekdays from 6 – 10 a.m. on Arizona Sports.

Dan Bickley

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