DAN BICKLEY

Suns look more ready for offseason than playoff run after Game 2 loss to T-Wolves

Apr 23, 2024, 8:11 PM | Updated: Apr 24, 2024, 3:29 pm

Pressure can turn cracks into canyons. It can turn mountains into rubble.

The Suns are almost in ruins.

It wasn’t the lack of fight in a 105-93 loss to the Timberwolves in Game 2 of the Western Conference playoffs.

It was the little stuff. It was the embarrassing turnovers that would make a rec league team blush. It was the disconnected play and the absence of a real offensive system. It was the lack of a true point guard, likely the fatal flaw of the 2023-24 season.

Devin Booker was better in Game 2 on Tuesday, but far from our hero. Something has seemed off about him all season long. He has seemed detached, dispassionate and occasionally tone-deaf. There were many possessions in Game 2 when he insisted on deferring, moving the ball instead of forcing the issue, essentially refusing to put this team on his back.

He was nearly goaded into a physical exchange with Jaden McDaniels, the kind of instigation you will find on Page 1 of the Devin Booker postseason scouting report. He convinced his head coach to call for an ill-fated challenge that blew up in the team’s face, even though Booker was clearly guilty of an infraction upon review. He fouled out with 20 points, amid growing questions about his ability to shine in the postseason, under stifling pressure.

Sorry, that’s how the NBA works.

Kevin Durant wasn’t much better. In a forest of physicality, Durant too often looks like a fading scorer, and he is far too careless with the basketball. Alas, there is nothing organic, redeeming or remotely special about these Suns, even after the postseason bell has rung. The frustration is thick on Planet Orange.

The Suns claim to possess a “Big Three.” They deploy the NBA equivalent of nuclear weapons capable of wrecking any defense. But on Tuesday, the Suns struggled to get decent shots. They scored 42 points in the second half. And the real Big Three — the three best players on the court — were all Timberwolves.

The loss continued a dubious streak. The Suns have now lost 12 consecutive Game 2’s on the road, a streak dating back to 1994. And after two playoff games in Minnesota, the Suns do not look like a team ready to win this series, the next series and the series after that.

They look like a team still capable of committing 20 turnovers in a playoff game. A team at odds with their head coach, a team that doesn’t seem to have a lot of trust in the blueprint. A team that seems ready for a long offseason ahead.

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

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