DAN BICKLEY

Suns’ shortcomings are a cautionary tale of modern superteams

Apr 26, 2024, 11:23 PM | Updated: Apr 27, 2024, 8:56 am

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns reacts on the bench during the second half of game three of the...

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns reacts on the bench during the second half of game three of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs at Footprint Center on April 26, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Timberwolves defeated the Suns 126-109. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Broken basketball teams don’t win championships. They go bust.

That’s what the Suns did on another nauseating night at Footprint Center. They went bust. All that remains is a funeral and a eulogy.

Superteam? Hardly. When it comes to playoff basketball, the Big Three is now Oh-for-Three. Their 126-109 loss to the Timberwolves on Friday was yet another tribute to one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.

“We put ourselves in a hole and we’ve got to dig ourselves out of it,” Devin Booker said. “So that’s that.”

No team in NBA history has ever rallied from an 0-3 deficit to win a series. It certainly won’t be a disconnected group with a flawed blueprint. The Suns have been fatally compromised by the lack of a point guard. They hired the wrong leader, a defensive-minded head coach who couldn’t reach a team built on offensive firepower.

It’s easy to spot a basketball team that doesn’t believe in the message or the mission, whether it’s Bradley Beal in a heated exchange with Frank Vogel in Game 2 or Booker walking out of a huddle during a timeout in Game 3.

The Suns are a disconnected, dispassionate bunch. Their roster is flawed, and their vibe is wrong. Their spectacular failings will be a cautionary tale, and possibly the last superteam ever attempted in the NBA, a league that now values depth and roster development.

Desperation should’ve been the Suns’ greatest weapon on Friday. After a pair of embarrassing losses in Minnesota, there is no way the Timberwolves should’ve been able to match the energy of the Suns in Game 3. An angry team with three superstars and a healthy amount of competitive pride would’ve blown the visitors out of the building in the first half.

Didn’t happen.

The Suns received an inspiring performance from Eric Gordon, who scored 10 points in the opening period. They received 15 free throws in the first quarter. They still could not gain separation. They were once again consumed with their grievances toward the officials. And once again, they lost the plot shortly after halftime.

“Third quarter kicking our (backside), isn’t it?” Beal said.

The Timberwolves outscored the Suns 36-20 in the third quarter. They dominated on the glass. Soon, boos were reverberating through a building that has staged far too many of these trauma-inducing clunkers in recent years. Disgusted fans began streaming for the exits. A playoff matchup that once seemed so favorable for the Suns has devolved into yet another nightmare.

“Rightfully so,” Booker said of the fan dissatisfaction.

This is a bad look for everyone, especially the Big Three. Kevin Durant is one of the greatest scorers in history but hasn’t won anything significant without Steph Curry. Beal is no longer dominating like he did at the end of the regular season when he emerged as a team leader. And for a player who is considered a top-15 talent in the NBA, Booker is having a hard time finding his mojo and controlling his fury. A first-round loss to the Timberwolves will be another stain on his reputation.

“They say it’s never been done before,” Booker said of having to rally from an 0-3 deficit. “That’s exciting.”

Except there was not a hint of excitement in his voice. At this point, they all know the score.

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

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