Reality Sets in Once Again for Phoenix Suns

The Suns must face reality once again.
Apr 7, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA;  Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) as he shoots against New
Apr 7, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) as he shoots against New / Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

In a scenario that was almost inconceivable over the weekend, the Phoenix Suns once again find themselves in the play-in tournament with only three games to get out of the precarious position.

The Suns got off to perhaps the worst start in franchise history in the first quarter of their loss against the Los Angeles Clippers last night - mustering only 10 points in 12 minutes of action.

“We didn’t play well enough, we didn’t execute, we didn’t make shots and when we got down, we started  pressing and it snowballed," Frank Vogel said after the loss.

The Suns trailed by 33 at halftime - this result might be even more tumultuous than the infamous bow out to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2022 playoffs.

The Mavericks had Luka Doncic. The Clippers were minus Kawhi Leonard and James Harden.

Yes, the playoffs are a completely different monster compared to the regular season, but this untimely result is a microcosm of the shortcomings of this team all season.

The Suns showed a good effort in the second half - to the point of cutting the Clippers' lead to seven in the fourth quarter.

It wasn't good enough.

"In the second half, we saw the ball go in and that got our crowd and us going. We were able to get back into the game, cut it to seven after being down by almost 40 points. So, we just made more shots in  the second half," said Kevin Durant.

"We forced them to turn the ball over too, so we were able to get out in transition. That is the  formula for us right there. The first quarter sunk us, that is the reason we lost.”

The Suns have been one of the league's best squads since Bradley Beal became a regular fixture in the rotation on Dec. 29.

It hasn't been enough.

The Suns have proven they can beat virtually any given team on any given night.

They have also proven the opposite.

This Suns team has been a quality one - and one that seemed to be a sleeping giant that was rounding into peak form directly ahead of the most crucial playoff run in franchise history.

Then reality set in.

Phoenix needs to win out to have a fighter's chance in the most competitive playoff field in a decade, perhaps even longer - no questions asked.

If not, they are putting their playoff fate at risk in single-game scenarios, and we could be heading for a contentious offseason much earlier than anyone could've imagined in October.

Kevin Hicks