DAN BICKLEY

Suns find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place after getting swept

Apr 28, 2024, 10:28 PM | Updated: Apr 29, 2024, 7:36 am

The Suns did not rally the Valley. They did not end up in a winner’s circle or a victory parade.

They ended up in a dustpan. What a disgrace.

Good riddance to one of the most unsatisfying seasons and unlikeable teams in franchise history.

The Suns were unceremoniously swept out of the postseason on Sunday, falling to the Timberwolves 122-116 at Footprint Center. It was an ignoble ending for our very first super team in Phoenix.

“Everybody talks about (our) firepower,” Devin Booker said. “But if you look around the league, (winning) comes down to the details.”

Clearly, the Suns flunked the details.

It was little consolation prize, but the Suns went down swinging in Game 4. Booker attacked the rim all night long, accumulating 49 points and 21 free throw attempts. Unlike his previous two elimination-game vanishing acts at Footprint Center, Booker is absolved from this defeat.

Still, it is little consolation for Suns fans who have now endured 58 years without a championship. And it’s a shame Booker didn’t show this kind of ruthless aggression earlier in the series.

Kevin Durant added 33 points while playing over 46 minutes, but Bradley Beal was dreadful. The bench was unproductive. Per usual, the Suns committed a handful of reckless, disastrous turnovers in the closing minutes. Meanwhile, Anthony Edwards continued his ascension with a spectacular 40-point performance, allowing the Timberwolves to complete a stunning triumph.

The Suns dominated the Timberwolves during the regular season, leading many to believe this series would be a welcome reprieve for an unfocused, underwhelming basketball team.

Instead, it was a death sentence.

Alas, Edwards has now surpassed Booker in the NBA hierarchy. And after a season where the Suns showed little cohesion and connectivity, where their leaders failed to lead and rarely showed any emotion at all, it will be interesting to see how they’re perceived at the 2024 Olympics.

How will Suns fans feel if Booker and Durant seem far more motivated and invigorated playing for a gold medal in Paris? Will it be a source of pride or a really tough swallow?

The future is murky on many levels. The Suns are an extremely expensive team with very little depth or roster flexibility. Before Game 4, there was a report that head coach Frank Vogel might lose his job with a first-round ouster, especially with the championship expectations of the owner.

Vogel was asked how confident he was that he’ll be the Suns head coach in 2024-25, and he didn’t flinch.

“Very,” he said. “I’ve got full support of Mat Ishbia.”

Vogel might be in denial. It’s hard to imagine this joyless team returning with the same leadership void next season. Especially after getting swept in the first round. Especially when they inspire so little civic confidence.

But it’s not like the Suns have options. They blow it all up or run it back again. They’re stuck with the lesser of two evils. And that’s the scariest part of all.

Dan Bickley

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